NUGGETS

In bizarre last-second move, Joel Embiid dodges Nikola Jokic again

Jan 27, 2024, 3:40 PM | Updated: 3:41 pm

DENVER—Joel Embiid will not play in the MVP square-off against Nikola Jokic, again, ducking the Denver Nuggets for yet another season.

Embiid was announced out minutes before tip-off of the Saturday afternoon primetime game. Embiid was not on the injury report and was widely expected to play in the contest. Embiid warmed up for the game unlike Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, who were ruled out earlier in the day for various injuries.

Ball Arena hasn’t seen reigning NBA MVP Embiid play since 2019, a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback by the Nuggets that saw Jokic hit a game-winner over Embiid. The Philly big man has dodged Nikola Jokic or found a way around the annual contest in Denver all but two times since being drafted in 2014.

Jokic and the Nuggets played a tough matchup in Philly about two weeks ago, a tight win for the 76ers where Embiid nearly guaranteed he would play in Denver.

Embiid and Jokic are currently the frontrunners for this year’s MVP. Last’s year dodge had little impact so it’s hard to say if this will matter when the award gets voted on. But Embiid needs to reach 65 games to qualify for the award and he’s currently on pace to play too few games.

Now Denver is robbed again of one of the best players’ one trip to Denver, ABC is robbed of the matchup between the two MVPs and Embiid again looks soft for dodging one of the few big men on his level.

The Nuggets will face another former MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Monday, a player never scared of Jokic and Denver.

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