Monday’s Sixers game against the Denver Nuggets was billed as a showdown for the NBA’s MVP Award.

While Joel Embiid (34 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) may have won his individual battle with Nikola Jokic (22 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists), it was Jokic’s team that emerged victorious. In short, the Sixers had the best player on the floor, but the second-best team.

With the Sixers’ bench struggling for the third consecutive game, the team’s problems appear to be more of a tragic flaw than a quick fix. A 5-0 start to the James Harden Era has quickly made way for a 2-3 stretch, with one of those wins coming in overtime against lowly Orlando.

Given that trend, David Murphy projects Embiid to win a trophy but not the one he —or the city of Philadelphia — desperately wants.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

On a scale of 1-10 how worried are you about the Sixers following their recent results and why? Tell us at

Off the Dribble

Joel Embiid has carried the 76ers this season — and that is starting to become an issue. On Monday, Embiid asked to be taken out of the Sixers’ game against the Nuggets in the first quarter and “screwed up” the team’s substitution patterns, according to coach Doc Rivers.

Clearly, Embiid is tired. And he knows the Sixers need to be better. The problem is, Embiid has been one of the best players in the NBA this season. He’s an MVP candidate. He’s one of the league’s top centers. He can’t do much more than he has already done. Yet, he needs a rest if he is to propel the Sixers toward the playoffs. As The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey writes, the Sixers don’t have many other players to turn to. And that presents a dilemma as the stretch run approaches.

Next: The Sixers take the court on Wednesday in Cleveland to play the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. (NBCSP).

There’s still time ...

... to fill out our bracket jawn for the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments.

Early Birds

How do our Eagles writers grade the Haason Reddick signing? Pretty well. He comes at a good price and fills a pass-rushing need that plagued the Eagles last season. They needed to pressure quarterbacks more in Jonathan Gannon’s system. So it’s thumbs-up for this move in free agency.

The Eagles also had decisions to make on players who contributed last season, and on Tuesday they tendered offensive lineman Nate Herbig and agreed to terms with wide receiver Greg Ward and defensive back Andre Chachere on one-year contracts.

Next: The free agency signing period begins today at 4 p.m.

Extra Innings

Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola says his brother Austin is “the only guy that really knows me best,” so it was only natural that he turned to him for some feedback. Austin is also a catcher for the Padres, but it’s the “brutally honest” input he provided Aaron in his quest for a bounce-back season that really helped him this offseason.

Now that the designated hitter has come to the National League, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto can take a break from being behind the plate and still have his bat in the lineup. As long as they’re winning, Realmuto says he’s OK with that.

Coming off knee surgery, starting pitcher Zach Eflin considers himself ahead of schedule and on track to be ready for opening day.

Next: The Phillies open their spring training schedule against the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. Friday.

On the Fly

After yet another backbreaking loss on Sunday, Mike Yeo threatened to “scratch players” if he had to.

The interim Flyers coach walked back those comments a bit on Tuesday but did make a few changes at practice. The biggest change came to the defense as Yeo partnered the struggling Ivan Provorov with young Cam York. The two will play on the top pair on Thursday against the Nashville Predators, marking the first time they have played together.

“It’s nothing really new for me. I think just getting used to Provy’s style will be a little bit of an adjustment,” said York. “But other than that, I don’t think there will be too many issues.”

Next: The Flyers will play the Predators on Thursday night in what will be Claude Giroux’s 1,000th NHL game. The team will honor the captain with a pregame ceremony starting at 7 p.m (NBCSP).

Fleet Street

Looking for some good soccer to watch this week? Look no further as the Champions League heats up on Wednesday with the second leg of Chelsea’s two-legged tie against Lille.

While Chelsea’s in a comfortable position on the field holding a 2-0 lead from the first matchup, the club finds itself in a state of controversy off it, given the recent findings and sanctions against Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Jonathan Tannenwald previews that matchup and more of the best soccer this week from around the globe.

Worth a Look

Like father like son: Jameer Nelson’s star was born in the 2004 NCAA Tournament with St. Joseph’s. Almost 20 years later, his son, a sophomore point guard for Delaware, will look to make a name for himself at the same tournament. Mike Jensen on the pressure that comes with being Jameer Jr.

The Legend of ‘White Magic’: Before he became the fiery coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes, Fran McCaffery built quite a reputation as a young player in Philadelphia. Joe Juliano has the inside story of how McCaffery earned the moniker.

Unhappy Valley: While Penn State is located in Happy Valley, for three former Nittany Lions, happiness has been found elsewhere. That’s because former PSU stars Izaiah Brockington, Jamari Wheeler, and Rasir Bolton will all be playing in the NCAA Tournament. Here’s their story.

From the PCL to the NCAA Tournament: Isaiah Wong was a two-time Catholic League MVP with Bonner-Prendergast. Now’s he’s the second-leading scorer for an NCAA Tournament team in Miami. As Jeff Neiburg discovered, the common denominator has been hard work.

Tuesday’s Trivia Answer

We asked: What school became the first team with 20 Final Four appearances?

In 2017, North Carolina became the first men’s basketball program to reach 20 Final Fours. The Tar Heels reached a record 11 Final Fours under Dean Smith, another five under Roy Williams, two under Bill Guthridge, one under Frank McGuire, and their first in 1946 led by Ben Carnevale.

Wednesday Wisdom

Looking for some tips as you fill out your bracket? We’ve got you covered:

  • Pick at least one 12 seed to beat a five. The 5-12 games have become the cliche upset pick, but the data doesn’t lie. Since 1985, 12 seeds are 51-93 (.354 winning percentage), while at least one 12 seed had won in 31 of the last 36 tournaments.

  • Beware of the 2 seeds: We’re not suggesting you go out and pick the four 15 seeds, or even one for that matter, but be wary of picking all four No. 2s to reach the Sweet 16. In 22 of the last 24 tournaments, at least one of them has failed to get out of the opening weekend.

  • How many 1 seeds should I take?: While there is no definitive answer, data from the NCAA says that you should probably pick either one or two. Since 1985, when the bracket expanded, there has been only one tournament when all four 1 seeds have made the Final Four (2.8%). There have only been four that have featured three (11%). Meanwhile, 14 times, two No. 1s have reached the Final Four and 15 times, one team has made it. Remember this if you think your bracket has too much chalk.

Process This

Sports Daily Newsletter readers, we’re here to provide a fair warning before flooding your inboxes. As faithful subscribers, you’ve all proven that you love e-mails — and maybe a few Philly sports teams. That said, we will start a new series of e-mail alerts called “Process This” to feed your basketball fandom. So be on the lookout for our typical news, analysis, and commentary in a compact package, sent directly to your inbox.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from David Murphy, Keith Pompey, Gina Mizell, Mike Jensen, Josh Tolentino, EJ Smith, Jeff McLane, Jonathan Tannenwald, Jeff Neiburg, Joe Juliano, Olivia Reiner, Alex Coffey, and Scott Lauber.