In a gritty battle, the Denver Nuggets emerged victorious with a 111-105 win against the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. Nikola Jokic showcased his brilliance with 26 points and 16 rebounds, but the marquee matchup fans anticipated between Jokic and Joel Embiid was once again denied as Embiid sat out for the fourth consecutive time in Denver.
Controversy Surrounds Late Scratch of Joel Embiid
The absence of Joel Embiid, sidelined due to concerns about his balky left knee, stirred controversy, especially considering the late nature of his scratch. Sixers coach Nick Nurse revealed that despite Embiid’s eagerness to play, the medical team deemed him unfit for the game, leaving both teams and fans disappointed.
Nuggets Coach Miffed by Late Notice
Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone expressed frustration with the late announcement of Embiid’s absence. Malone questioned the sudden change in status, stating, “I don’t know how you go from being active/available to out.” He hinted at a possible league investigation into such situations, emphasizing the challenges it poses for opposing teams in their preparations.
Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Contribute
Jamal Murray played a crucial role for the Nuggets, scoring 23 points, while Michael Porter Jr. added 20 points to the winning effort. Despite missing key players, the short-handed Sixers, led by Paul Reed’s career-best 30 points and Kelly Oubre Jr.’s 25 points, kept the game competitive until the closing minutes.
Jokic Acknowledges Embiid’s Impact
Nikola Jokic, though disappointed by the absence of Joel Embiid, shifted the focus to Paul Reed’s outstanding performance. Jokic praised Embiid’s season, calling it “absolutely breathtaking” and acknowledged the historical significance of his contributions.
Uncertain Availability of Embiid and MVP Race
Embiid’s ongoing battle with injuries raises questions about his availability and impact on the MVP race. The Sixers star has missed 11 games this season, with the new NBA rules allowing him only six more missed games to remain eligible for league awards, including the MVP.
Tough Win for the Nuggets
Despite expectations of an easier game without Embiid, the Nuggets faced a resilient Sixers team and secured a hard-fought victory. Malone reflected on the challenging nature of the win, stating, “Well, it wasn’t a cakewalk. This was a tough, tough win.”
Upcoming Matches: 76ers vs. Trail Blazers, Nuggets vs. Bucks
The Philadelphia 76ers will visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night, seeking to regroup after the challenging matchup. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets will host the Milwaukee Bucks in Doc Rivers’ coaching debut with Milwaukee on Monday night.
1. Why did Joel Embiid miss the game against the Nuggets, and how did it impact the matchup?
- Joel Embiid was sidelined due to concerns about his balky left knee. His absence sparked controversy, and the Sixers scratched him just minutes before tipoff, impacting both teams and disappointing fans.
2. How did Nikola Jokic perform in the game, and how did he react to Embiid’s absence?
- Nikola Jokic delivered an impressive performance with 26 points and 16 rebounds. While disappointed by Embiid’s absence, Jokic shifted the focus to praising Paul Reed’s outstanding display.
3. What did Nuggets coach Michael Malone express regarding the late notice of Embiid’s absence?
- Coach Malone expressed frustration with the late announcement of Embiid’s absence and hinted at a possible league investigation into such situations. He emphasized the challenges it poses for opposing teams in their preparations.
4. What are the upcoming matches for the 76ers and Nuggets?
- The 76ers will visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night, aiming to regroup after the challenging matchup. The Nuggets will host the Milwaukee Bucks in Doc Rivers’ coaching debut with Milwaukee on Monday night.