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Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic looking to pick things up when Sixers host Denver on Tuesday

Both centers are not having the seasons they enjoyed a year ago.

Sixers center Joel Embiid reaching for the ball against Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during a game in February.
Sixers center Joel Embiid reaching for the ball against Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during a game in February.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

It is considered one of the marquee matchups in the NBA, so much so that TNT decided last week to televise Tuesday’s 8 p.m. game between the 76ers (17-7) and Denver Nuggets (14-7) at the Wells Fargo Center.

The matchup within the matchup, of course, is at center, with the Sixers’ Joel Embiid going up against Denver’s Nikola Jokic.

Because the two play in different conferences, their teams meet only twice a year. The body of work between them is still growing.

What is interesting is that neither is performing to the level of last season, when Jokic, 24, was named the first-team All-NBA center and Embiid, 25, was on the second team. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been effective, though.

Here are the key statistics for both players from last season and so far this season.

Joel Embiid

2018-19: 27.5 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 33.7 mpg, .484 fg, .300 3-pt, 3.7 apg, 3.5 topg, 3.3 pfpg

2019-20: 21.9 ppg., 12.5 rpg., 1.4 bpg. 30.4 mpg, .459 fg, .313 3-pt, 2.9 apg, 3.4 topg, 3.5 pfpg

Embiid is playing more than three fewer minutes per game, so that could be a factor in the decreased statistics. But he also is averaging 3.5 personal fouls, whereas he averaged 3.3 in more minutes last year.

Nikola Jokic

2018-19: 20.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 31.3 mpg, .511 fg, .307 3-pt, 7.3 apg, 3.1 topg, 2.9 pfpg

2019-20: 16.1 ppg, 10.1 rbg, 0.6 bpg, 31.0 mpg, .465 fg, .229 3-pt, 6.1 apg, 2.6 topg, 3.2 pfpg

Jokic’s performance difference between the seasons is more pronounced because he is playing almost the same number of minutes. But his shooting is way down.

Career meetings

So far in their careers, they have met four times. Here are their stats against each other, courtesy of


3-1, 29.4 mpg, .356 fg, .200 3-pt, 19.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 2.5 apg, 5.3 topg, 5.0 pfpg


1-3, 31.5 mpg, .479 fg, .250 3-pt, 23 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 6.0 apg, 2.3 topg, 3.8 pfpg

This year’s first meeting between the teams, on Nov. 8, ended with controversy. The host Nuggets won, 100-97. With the Sixers trailing by 98-97, Embiid was called for a charge with 0.9 seconds left. The NBA Officiating Last 2 Minute Report later stated that a foul should have been called on Jokic instead of on Embiid.

Of course, it wouldn’t have come down to that if the Sixers hadn’t been outscored, 35-13, in the fourth quarter.

In that game, Embiid had 19 points (6-for-17), 15 rebounds, and 8 turnovers. Jokic had 26 points (10-for-22), 10 rebounds, and one turnover.

Embiid is coming off a less-than-stellar performance in Sunday’s 110-104 home win over Toronto. Facing defensive nemesis Marc Gasol, Embiid scored 10 points (3-for-7) with 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 7 turnovers in 30 minutes, 29 seconds.

“I thought his energy and his presence ... was good,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “In the end, they pressed, and he had some rough decisions.”

Some of those decisions resulted in three turnovers in a 51-second span.

Despite the miscues, Brown said Embiid was a big reason the Sixers won.

“It won’t jump out to you on the stat sheet, but it’s Joel Embiid and his length,” Brown said. “You can feel his presence really affected their rim work.”

Jokic appears to be coming out of a slump in his last two games, although the Nuggets lost both, Friday in Boston and Sunday in Brooklyn. He has scored 54 points in his last two games.

During his previous five games, he averaged just 8.4 points, shot .383 from the field and was 0-for-7 from three-point range.

Richardson update

Starting guard Josh Richardson, who has missed the last six games with right hamstring tightness, has been listed as questionable on the official NBA injury report for Tuesday’s game. Richardson is averaging 16.1 points and has also been among the Sixers top defensive players.