Heading into Saturday’s marquee matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets, both Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic popped up on the injury report. Thankfully, both players were able to take the court, and boy were we treated to an epic duel.
In the end, it was Joel Embiid who won the battle, as he led the Sixers to a statement win over the Nuggets, 126-119. The Sixers big man dropped a game-high 47 points on 18-of-31 shooting to go along with 18 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. Embiid also went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc to cap off his monster night.
After the game, the Sixers superstar was asked to share his thoughts on the rivalry narrative between himself in Jokic. As it turns out, however, JoJo has nothing but love for The Joker:
“No, it’s not a rivalry. I love the big fella, man,” Embiid said. “Two-time MVP, one of the best players in the league. He’s such a good player. I’m a big fan.”
That’s total class from Embiid, which is a welcome development after the controversial center was hit with a $25,000 fine for his rather NSFW celebration against the Brooklyn Nets earlier in the week.
After heaping praise on Jokic, Embiid then turned his attention to his Sixers. In his mind, this was a big win for Philly as they look to establish themselves as a legitimate title contender this season:
“So, if you wanna come out here, best team in the West, see where we at, I think we got a chance,” he said. “So, we just gotta keep staying locked in.”
"It's not a rivalry. I love the big fella."
All love between Joel and Jokic 🤝
(via @CassidyHubbarth) pic.twitter.com/7amVgtXIOn
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 28, 2023
Don’t look now but the Sixers are currently in the midst of a seven-game winning streak. They will be looking to close out January with another victory when they take on the Orlando Magic on Monday.