Basketball fans everywhere were anticipating a showdown of two MVP frontrunners with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers visiting Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately, that is no longer on the table. The Sixers have decided to rule Embiid out due to a calf injury, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
“Sixers are ruling out Joel Embiid (calf) vs. Nikola Jokic and Nuggets. Embiid attempted to work out this morning, but team is taking a precautionary approach given density of recent schedule,” reports ESPN.
Embiid has played the last few games, including a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, with calf tightness. He sat out the second half of a Wednesday win against the Chicago Bulls because of it, though the word of that injury didn’t become official until the end of the game.
With James Harden out for the past three games with an Achilles issue, Embiid has had much more on-court responsibility. After looking noticeably gassed in the Sixers’ loss on Saturday, the big fella will be given an extra day to rest. He has stated the importance of maintaining health heading into the postseason, something that he has not always had going for him in past years.
Embiid’s absence comes after the publishing of an article in The Athletic where he makes some interesting points that seem like direct pokes at Jokic for his defense and lack of mounting pressure to win. In the article, he claims that he chose not to come back into the blowout win against the Bulls and avoided stat padding. But it’s clear now that the injury is severe enough to sideline him for a prime-time matchup. Although the big man has been dealing with right calf tightness for a few days, the timing of his rest day is far from ideal.
Although the Sixers are reportedly likely to get Harden back in action, their odds of winning in Denver without Embiid are slim.
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