Nikola Jokic is full of compliments for Joel Embiid after losing game on Tuesday
Photo: Philadelphia 76ers/Twitter
Nikola Jokic doesn’t mind Joel Embiid’s absence from what could have been their heavyweight matchup on Tuesday as the Denver Nuggets thrashed the Philadelphia 76ers 116-111 at home.
Hours before the duel, the 76ers pulled Embiid out citing precautions as they were trying to deal with the big man’s sore right calf. The franchise superstar played two straight games against the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns on Friday and Saturday respectively, resulting in losses.
The medical information provided by Philadelphia ended up disappointing basketball fans who were waiting for another fight between this season’s MVP leaders. After publishing Embiid’s cryptic interview with The Athletic’s Zach Harper and Shams Charania on the same day, all the hype and intensifying narration of the match suddenly turned to dust.
“I mean, I didn’t really think (about it). If he goes, he goes; If he doesn’t (he won’t),” Jokic said, if disappointed by Embiid’s unavailability on Tuesday. “It won’t change my approach to the game.”
After Embiid was eliminated along with James Harden (Achilles), the long-awaited matchup of the two rival teams in the league turned into a one-sided game that spoiled the anticipation for an exciting league circle duel.
Faced with a starless Philadelphia team, Jokic easily pulled off his usual brilliance of 25 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. It was his 29th triple-double of the season, and the Nuggets were the top seed in the Western Conference.
Despite failing to take on his strongest opponent in his potential MVP triumph for the last time this year – unless they meet in the NBA Finals in June – Jokic has received nothing but complete respect and admiration for Embiid’s greatness.
Jokic called Embiid a “beast” and one of the best players in the NBA given his influence on both ends of the floor. The Cameroonian star leads the league in points scored (33.3) and breaks the 66ers’ record of 49-26 points, third in the East.
“I think he is a great player. I think he will be remembered as one of the most dominant players in the league,” continued Jokic. “This guy is a beast and he is so talented that he can influence the floor in many different ways. It can affect the game on the floor in different ways.
“He can post, he can face up, he can throw threes, he can defend very well, he can defend one to five in some situations. I think he is a very, very good player.”