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NBA Preview: Philadelphia Sixers (29-14) at Denver Nuggets (31-15)

The Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic rivalry is not even close to the Magic-Bird battles of the 1980s, but it has generated some must-see action.

Last season, like most of the last few years, talk centered around who was the more deserving MVP candidate, and Embiid earned the honor after finishing second to Jokic the previous two seasons.

They are both in the conversation again this year, and Saturday afternoon they will go head-to-head when the Philadelphia 76ers visit the Denver Nuggets.

It is the second meeting between the teams, with Philadelphia winning at home 126-121 on Jan. 16.

Embiid had 41 points and 10 rebounds in that win while Jokic had 25 points and 19 rebounds. Embiid said the rivalry with Jokic is more casual than how some observers take it.

Embiid claimed the franchise record for points in a game when he dropped 70 against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. But the Sixers had their six-game winning streak snapped at Indiana on Thursday night which kicked off a five-game road trip.

Philadelphia played Thursday without Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris due to illness but could have them back for the matinee matchup in Denver.

Denver’s loss at Philadelphia this month started their five-game road trip that ended Thursday night with a humbling 122-84 loss to the New York Knicks. Jokic was poked in the left eye in the first half, went to the locker room then returned to finish with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

It was a tough way to end a 3-2 road trip that included ending Boston’s previously perfect home record and taking a solid win against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Jokic’s eye injury could impact his status for the game.

The Nuggets are playing well at home where they are 17-4. The bench has been playing better lately and second-year forward Peyton Watson is emerging as a reliable contributor.

Watson hasn’t been scoring at a high volume, at 6.8 points per game, but he is doing little things to warrant minutes, like his average of 2.25 blocked shots over the last four games.

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