Though he did not face off against his fellow MVP candidate on March 27, Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic gushed about Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid during his postgame press conference.
“I think he’s a great player,” Jokic said. “I think he’s gonna be remembered as one of the most dominant players in the league. The guy’s a beast and he’s so talented. He can affect in many ways on the floor. He can post up. He can face up; he can shoot threes. He can defend really well. He can, in some situations, guard one through five. So he’s really, I think he’s a really, really good player.”
Embiid and Jokic have gone at it for the MVP award for the last two seasons, with Embiid having come in second place, only behind Jokic, the previous two seasons. That could all change this season as Embiid is putting up some of his career-best numbers, averaging 33.3 points and shooting 54.5% from the field.
Doc Rivers Offers Grim Update on Joel Embiid
Before the Sixers took on the Nuggets, head coach Doc Rivers gave more detail on Embiid’s calf injury. Rivers said that he hopes Embiid’s injury won’t linger, but also called calf injuries “tricky,” per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
Rivers also said that the Sixers’ primary goal is making sure Embiid is ready for the playoffs.
“He felt great the last two games, but we’re just gonna take this slow and be smart. We want to get him, and our whole team, healthy, for the playoffs. That’s the most important thing.”
During his postgame press conference, Rivers gave his two cents on where he thinks both Embiid and James Harden will be health-wise when the Sixers face off against the Dallas Mavericks on March 29.
“Jo, I don’t know, but (I’m) optimistic for James,” Rivers said.
Justin Grasso of Sports Illustrated reported that both Harden and Embiid are questionable for the Sixers’ game against the Mavericks. Whether they play or not, it’s notable that both are healthy enough that it’s not a foregone conclusion that they won’t be able to play in their upcoming games with the playoffs not too long from now.
Joel Embiid Accused of ‘Ducking Smoke’
When it had been reported that Embiid would miss the Sixers game against the Nuggets, ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins accused Embiid of hiding from his matchup against Embiid, going as far as calling it “ducking smoke.”
“Joel Embiid is ducking that smoke today, and y’all know how I feel about Joel Embiid,” Perkins said. “He has been on record, we know how much it means to him to win this award. Here it is, you gave Jokic a spanking when they was down there in Philly. You have to give him the opportunity to get his league back. You cannot sit out this game.”
Perkins added that when Embiid does things like this, it affects how Perkins will approach his vote for the Most Valuable Player award.
“When it comes down to these moments and these matchups, I have a vote, and when…I’m looking at the MVP, and who I’m going to pencil in, I’m going to remember this moment. It’s only fair. Jokic showed up to work in Philly. You have to give him his league back.”