NUGGETS

Embiid wins his Super Bowl at cozy home, tops Jokic’s Nuggets

Jan 16, 2024, 8:18 PM

Joel Embiid has another line for his MVP resume, topping the Nikola Jokic’s Denver Nuggets 126-121 on Tuesday.

The Philadelphia 76ers rode a great fourth quarter and got 41 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists shots from their star in front of a national audience. It was a win in the battle of Embiid’s long war against Jokic. The Nuggets center answered with 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists but the two teams kept changing defenses to keep one off the other. An indication from Nuggets coach Michael Malone that he wanted his star out of foul trouble as Embiid paraded to the line 15 times. Aaron Gordon instead got into foul trouble

“They’re two great players, the last three MVPs out there playing,” Michael Malone said. “A lot of talented players out there. It went down to the wire and we keep up short.”

Meanwhile both Embiid’s co-stars in Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris had more points than the Nuggets second fiddle. It all played out big time in an 18-2 fourth-quarter run.

The real problem for Embiid in this year’s MVP is thanks to the new CBA’s minimum games requirement rule, the 76ers big can only miss seven of the final 43 Philly games to qualify for postseason awards. And nobody trusts Joel after the 76ers got bounced early from the playoffs last season. Then there’s the fact Embiid is only playing home games and easier matchups on the road—20 games at home to just nine on the road, only two of which are above .500. It totals to this year’s race may not come down to the two bigs, unlike the last two years. Embiid controversially won the award last year after Jokic took it the prior two seasons.

“I just told him he’s the best player in the league. I told him he won a championship, that’s the best team in the league. And he’s the Finals MVP, so I was just telling him to keep going, see you in two weeks,” Embiid told TNT postgame.

The real matchup comes on Jan. 27 when we’ll find out if Joel pulls his annual Philly Special dodge of Denver. The 76ers will be in town. Before then Denver has a matchup with the NBA’s best and undeafted-at-home Celtics.

Jokic is still the heavy favorite to win the award this season, and oh yeah the Nuggets have a ring from last year and a better record again right now.

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