Joel Embiid emerged victorious in the duel against Nikola Jokić on Tuesday, securing a 126-121 win for the Philadelphia 76ers over the Denver Nuggets at Wells Fargo Center. Despite the on-court competition, Embiid expressed his belief in Jokić’s status as the best player in the NBA during their postgame interaction, as revealed on the TNT broadcast.
Acknowledging Jokić’s two MVP awards compared to his own, Embiid’s performance on Tuesday continued to strengthen his position in the 2023-24 MVP race. The Philadelphia star showcased an impressive display, contributing 41 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, and a block. This marked his second consecutive 41-point performance and extended his streak to 18 consecutive games with at least 30 points.
"I just told him he's the best player in the league."
— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2024
On the opposing side, Jokić delivered a notable performance with 25 points, 20 rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block. This game marked his third consecutive 25-plus point performance and his first 20-rebound game since November 12 against the Houston Rockets.
While Embiid currently holds the front-runner status for the MVP, he faces the requirement of playing at least 65 games to qualify for the award. Having missed 10 games this season, he can afford to miss only eight more games to remain eligible. In a press statement on Monday, Embiid emphasized that he wouldn’t jeopardize his health to meet the game threshold, stating, “I’m not going to force myself or push for it. My game is always going to speak for itself.”
The 76ers’ victory on Tuesday brought their season record to 26-13, positioning them third in the Eastern Conference, just 4.5 games behind the first-place Boston Celtics. Embiid’s health is crucial for the team’s potential deep playoff run, with the focus now shifting towards achieving the ultimate goal of securing an NBA championship now that Embiid has already clinched the MVP award.