Josh Richardson, the 76ers’ starting shooting guard, returned to the lineup for Tuesday’s home matchup against the Denver Nuggets after missing the previous six games due to right hamstring tightness.

Besides averaging 16.1 points, Richardson is among the Sixers’ top defensive players.

“It feels good and I am excited to be back,” Richardson said before the game.

He said he was itching to get back for a while, but had to be patient.

“Sometimes you have to be smart,” he said. “I tried to take my time coming back and hopefully it will go well.”

Coach Brett Brown said before the game that there would be a minutes restriction on Richardson. The fifth-year guard says expects such restrictions for his first few games back.

This season Richardson has missed eight games. He was sidelined two games earlier with hip flexor tightness. The Sixers are 7-1 in the games Richardson has been sidelined, but Brown said it was difficult having him out.

“You don’t understand what you don’t have until you don’t’ have it and I felt the multiple pain in the games we didn’t have J-Rich on both sides of the ball,” Brown said. “I am thrilled to have him back.”

Richardson saw a silver lining in the timing of the injury.

“I am glad it happened early in the season and not later,” he said.

Richardson, who missed a total of 10 games the previous two years combined, suffered the hamstring injury toward the end of the first half of the Sixers’ 97-91 home win on Nov. 27 against the Sacramento Kings.

“It is not easy,” he said about being sidelined for a few weeks. “You kind of attack rehab like you attack a game, really. I was doing my best to get back as fast as I could, but patience was huge.”