Joel Embiid vs. Nuggets. The return of James Harden

Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne4 minutes to read

Embiid gets calf iced when shooting the 76ers

Joel Embiid ices his calf as the 76ers plan to rest him for their upcoming game against the Nuggets.

Ahead of the long-awaited meeting of the two main MVP contestants, it was Philadelphia Seventy Sixers They exclude the center Joel Embiid against the Denver Nuggets And Nikola Jokic sources told ESPN Monday night.

Embiid has been suffering from sore right calf, sources said, and the Sixers decided to take a precautionary approach given the intensity of the team’s recent schedule.

Embiid tried to give him a shot on Monday morning, but the Sixers decided to give him a break. Monday’s game in Denver is the Sixers’ third in four nights. Embiid played in both back-to-back Sixers’ tails against the Warriors and Suns on Friday and Saturday.

James HardenSources said An, who missed three consecutive matches with Achilles tendon pain, is on his way back on Monday night. Participated in the morning shoot.

Embiid scored 46 points—including 13 straight in the fourth quarter—to go with 9 rebounds and 8 assists in a 120-112 loss to Golden State before finishing with 28 points and 10 rebounds in a 125-105 loss to Phoenix.

Those games came after Embiid was knocked out in the second half of a big win in Chicago on Wednesday with right calf tightness, a game he could have returned to but the team chose to be careful with him given it wasn’t a competitive game. .

Monday’s game was a significant date in the NBA calendar due to the fact that Embiid and Jokic, once again, appear to be locked in a battle for the MVP title in the league this season. Jokic and Embiid have finished first and second, in that order, each of the past two seasons. Jokic led ESPN’s MVP poll last month, with 77 first-place votes, while Embiid came in third. Milwaukee Bucks a star Giannis Antikonmo.

Many sportsbooks have pinned Embiid as a minor favorite in recent weeks after stretching his dominant post-All-Star play.

In the first game between those two teams on January 28 in Philadelphia, Embiid delivered a dominant performance—47 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 assists—to lead Philadelphia back from a 15-point deficit and defeat Denver.

Embiid, the league’s leading scorer with 33.3 points per game, scored 28 of his points in the second half of that contest, and told ESPN afterwards that he felt this year’s edition of the 76ers was the best team he’d been away from in his NBA career.

Since the All-Star break, Embiid has been utterly dominant, averaging 34.1 points per game on 56.9 percent shooting to go along with 10.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.4 blocks per game — all while playing against the toughest schedule in the NBA, according to ESPN. Statistics and information research.

He’s had the highest utilization rate in the league (37.2 percent) since the All-Star break, and he’s scored 40.2 percent of Philadelphia’s points when he was on the field this month—the highest of any player in the league.

Harden, 33, has missed the past three games due to soreness in his left Achilles tendon after going 2-for-14 in 47 minutes in Philadelphia’s loss to Chicago at home a week ago. He’s been with the 76ers for their entire 3-game road trip, 76ers coach Doc Rivers said before Friday’s game in San Francisco against Golden State Warriors That there is a chance Harden will return against Phoenix Saturday and a “better” chance that he would have played Monday in Denver.

Harden was fully involved shooting in Philadelphia — a marked change from the limited work he was able to do on Friday at Golden State — and ended his time on the court with a slam dunk after passing the ball to himself off the backboard.

In his first full season with the 76ers, Harden leads the league with an average of 10.8 assists per game, as well as an average of 21.4 points per game. Embiid and Harden are on track to be the first teammates to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season since Johnny Moore and W.J. George Gervin did it for San Antonio Spurs in 1982.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this story.

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