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DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 08: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets guards Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center on November 08, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

A much-anticipated rematch between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic has been called off. Joel Embiid has been ruled out of tonight’s game in Denver so he can rest an injured calf. It would have been the 3rd game in 4 nights on the road. All of which were late-night games. And of course, tonight’s game is at a high altitude. Instead, Embiid will get much-deserved rest, hopefully keeping him healthy for the playoffs.

Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report Embiid’s status for the game.

For the 3rd season in a row, Embiid and Jokic are locked in a tight fight for MVP. Jokic won the past two and looked on his way to winning a third. But over the last month, suddenly things changed. The odds switched in Embiid’s favor, and he looked in line to finally win a deserved MVP award. We will have to see how Embiid sitting out this game impacts those odds. Giannis Antetokoumpo is also right in that MVP conversation with them. And his Bucks are close to taking the 1-seed in a very competitive Eastern Conference.

Embiid has taken a lot of heat for caring “too much” about winning MVP. But now that he is resting in a game that could have very well sealed his case, he is taking heat for the opposite. Eventually, Embiid’s critics are going to have to be consistent. Either he cares too much or not. Because resting so he can be healthy for the playoffs, at the cost of his MVP case, seems to suggest the opposite.

This rough west coast trip may have ended the Sixers’ chances at a higher seed. They are currently 2.5 games back from the Celtics, and 4 back from the Bucks. Including tonight there are just 8 games left. Those 8 do include games vs the Celtics and Bucks. But they will need to win those and get help, to claw their way into the 2 or 3 seed. The Sixers may be better off resting their stars while they can, to make sure Embiid and Harden are healthy and ready for the playoffs.

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