Reigning MVP Jokić Takes on Runner-Up Embiid
Rivalry Week is the newest addition to the NBA regular season, and it is filled with a lot of competitive matchups.
Throughout the week, the NBA scheduled classic, up-and-coming and player rivals against each other.
One of the player rivalries that the NBA is trying to push is Joel Embiid vs. Nikola Jokić.
Jokić has won the MVP Award in back-to-back seasons and Embiid was the runner-up both times. The two will be against each other when the Nuggets visit the 76ers on Saturday.
The more important storyline is that both teams are vying for first place in their conferences.
The Nuggets are currently on top of the West but have lost two of their last three games. Their one win was only by one point against the Pelicans.
Part of Denver’s recent struggles is that Jokić is fighting a hamstring injury.
He didn’t play in the losses against the Thunder and Bucks. But the Serbian Center was able to put up a triple-double and shot 73.3% from the field against the Pelicans.
Jokić is trending towards playing with three full days of rest going into Saturday.
He was able to put up a great performance on Tuesday after nearly a week off. Barring any setbacks in warmups, Jokić should still be a force for the Nuggets.
Looking at the 76ers, Embiid and guard Tyrese Maxey have played well in their returns from missed time.
Embiid missed last Saturday’s win as he is still recovering from a left foot injury. But he was able to return against the Nets on Wednesday and put up a 26-point double-double.
Maxey was out for more than a month with a foot injury and returned to his normal form in January. His return has been a big factor in Philadelphia’s six-game win streak heading into the weekend.
Guard James Harden is holding his end of the “big three” title that the 76ers’ core has. Harden is averaging a double-double in January with just over 11 assists per game.
Philadelphia is a team that is trending up and starting to challenge Boston in the East.
Denver might be starting a downhill slide as Jokic isn’t the only banged-up player.
Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Guard Jamal Murray are both listed as day-to-day on the injury report. Forward Michael Porter Jr. may also continue to miss time due to personal reasons.
Jokić has been able to carry this team most of his career and especially this season. But if he is banged up and other key players are as well, the 76ers shouldn’t have a problem Saturday afternoon.
The 76ers have more weapons to rely on, home-court advantage and have the momentum going into this match-up. Their fans should be very confident heading into the weekend.
Jayson O’Connell is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.