Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid received a ton of backlash after the team shut him down ahead of their blockbuster matchup with the Denver Nuggets on their turf on Saturday night. The reigning MVP’s absence was far from unforeseen, but was nevertheless the talk of league afficionados given the narrative that he’s ducking Nikola Jokic amid his failure to play in Denver since 2019.
Embiid sustained a minor knee hiccup in their previous game at Indiana, but he was not listed in the injury report prior to the Nuggets contest. But with just a few minutes before tip-off, Philly’s training staff ruled him out of the contest after a not-so-clean showing during shootarounds.
Really, that’s all the justification necessary to explain his absence. But for those swimming in the tide of glib narratives, here’s the truth behind Embiid missing out on his anticipated showdown against Jokic and the defending champions.
Analyst bares what came into the 76ers’ decision to sit Joel Embiid vs Nuggets
Ahead of last night’s matchup against the Trail Blazers, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne laid bare what truly happened a few moments before that Nuggets game and how the 76ers concluded that it would be more judicious to sit him out.
"[Joel Embiid] said, 'Don't even put me on the injury report, I'm playing in this [Sixers-Nuggets] game.' He went out and warmed up, he can't even jump... It was not even his choice."
Embiid’s absence on the injury report was perhaps the main reason that played into the abruptness of the situation. Even Nuggets head coach Michael Malone admitted that his team and staff went into the game under the belief that Embiid will be suiting him, subsequently adding that such omission would probably force league officials to investigate the case due to new league rules barring rest due to load management.
Still, this should put those talks of Embiid ducking the Nuggets (or really, any good team) to rest. He clearly had a setback in their previous game against the Pacers, and anyone who pays attention to the 76ers know that going full-throttle on a regular season game just to push an agenda is not worth it when your main cog is not fully healthy.