The Philadelphia 76ers have ruled out Joel Embiid and James Harden for Monday night's showdown against Nikola Jokic and the host Denver Nuggets, ESPN reported.
Sitting Embiid (calf tightness) is precautionary, given he played in the 76ers' back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against Golden State and Phoenix. The Sixers play again Wednesday against visiting Dallas. Embiid attempted to work out Monday morning, per the report.
The move shelves the showdown between MVP frontrunners. Jokic has won the award the past two seasons.
Harden (Achilles soreness) was originally expected to return after missing the past three games. He was listed as questionable on the team's injury report. But ESPN reported about 30 minutes before tip-off that Harden was downgraded to out and targeting a return later in the week when the 76ers are at home.
Philadelphia (49-25) looks fixed as the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers are 2 1/2 games behind Boston for the second seed and two games ahead of fourth-place Cleveland. Philly has eight games remaining.
Embiid hasn't missed a game since March 1, when he was inactive against Miami.
Embiid is averaging 33.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 61 starts. He also averages 1.7 blocks per game.
By comparison, Jokic is averaging 24.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.9 assists in 66 starts. Jokic is shooting 63.3 percent from the floor.
Embiid scored 47 points and Jokic 24 in the teams' first meeting Jan. 28. Philadelphia won 126-119.
--Field Level Media