Joel Embiid vs. Nikola Jokic: Final MVP showdown has massive implications

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers are going through a rough patch right now. Fatigue, minor injuries and a tougher game schedule pushed the Sixers to a great extent. They managed to win just one game in the last four outings, but their star man Joel Embiid still performs for them despite going through similar adverse conditions.

Up Next, the 76ers will play against the Denver Nuggets, who found their mojo again, winning three games in a row. They played against some of the top teams in the league very recently, including the Bucks and closed those games strongly. With both teams going in different directions, the Nuggets toppled the Sixers, entering the game as the third-best team in the league.

The results are important for both the teams – more so for the Philly team considering their position in the East. But this game is also seen as a showdown between the top two MVP candidates this season. So we will cover all the aspects of the game with that angle too.

Will this game decide the MVP race between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid?

As discussed in the previous article, all the MVP candidates in this year’s MVP race have performed exceptionally well. Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid are having a career-best scoring season, while Joker is doing his usual triple-double stuff, keeping the Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference.

As per the NBA MVP ladder, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic have inched ahead of their competitors and have a close battle for the MVP title. Jokic was leading the race from the start this season, and we saw him and Joel Embiid switching places late in the regular season.

In the last meeting between these two megastars, Joel Embiid dominated both ends of the floor with 47 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He led the Sixers in a 2nd-half comeback win over the Nuggets at Wells Fargo Arena. As for the Jokic, he flirted with a triple-double, adding 24 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 blocks in the game.

When both played one-on-one, Embiid would easily score over the Serbian star, and when roles were interchanged, “the Process” limited the reigning MVP’s offense. Jokic was never a high-scoring center, but the way Embiid guarded him highlighted the Frenchman’s superiority at the defensive end.

Now back to the upcoming game, Jokic will settle an individual score against Embiid if he can stop or outscore Philly’s big man in the game. Embiid looking for the win will have to replicate his last game performance, which will surely be a step closer to the MVP trophy.

Nevertheless, many eyes will be on this individual match-up than the game itself. One represents the technical brilliance of an artist, while the other showcases powerful game-play with efficient shooting and rim dominance.

Things we expect from the game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets

Predictions in an NBA game hardly work, but analytically we are in for a great match. Considering James Harden’s injury and importance in the postseason, Doc Rivers will sit him out for the 4th straight game. This will again be a huge burden on Joel Embiid and the team to compensate. Embiid himself is struggling with right calf tightness, which affected his performance against the Suns.

Conversely, Denver Nuggets will be playing with their full strength, with only Michael Porter Jr. questionable for the game. They even have stronger bench and elite play-makers like Jokic and Murray available against the Philadelphia 76ers.

So without James Harden and JoJo not being 100 percent in the game will make the Sixers dark horses in this match-up. Embiid will still have a double-double game; Philly’s supporting cast has to come up big on either end to defeat the Nuggets.

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