2024 NBA Playoffs

Nikola Jokic trying to stay on top, Joel Embiid trying to stay on court

Jokic will try to lead Nuggets to a 2-0 lead vs. Lakers on Monday, while 76ers hope Embiid can help tie series against the Knicks.

Embiid, 76ers searching for toughness heading into Game 2 against Knicks

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NEW YORK (AP) — Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are the NBA’s main men in the middle, the two centers combining for the last three MVP awards in the regular season with perhaps another coming soon.

It’s in the postseason where their paths are so different.

Jokic cemented his place among the game’s greats by leading the Denver Nuggets to last year’s NBA title, and he appears intent on staying on top.

Embiid is just trying to stay on the court.

He’s rarely been healthy enough to mount a real run at a championship and he’s already at less than full strength just a game into this postseason.

Jokic will try to lead the Nuggets to a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, while the Philadelphia 76ers hope Embiid can help them tie up their series against the New York Knicks.

Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds Saturday in Denver’s 114-103 victory. He has scored 20 or more points in 20 consecutive playoff games.

“We see it all the time, man,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Nikola is a great player and the bigger the stage, the brighter the lights, he just continues to shine.”

Embiid seemed on his way to a dominant night against the Knicks before appearing to reinjure his surgically repaired left knee after throwing the ball off the backboard to himself and slamming it down late in the first half. Last season’s MVP and scoring champion returned and finished with 29 points but appeared limited, going 2-for-11 after halftime and missing all five shots in the fourth quarter.

He has missed at least one game in each of the last three postseasons. But he returned after sitting out two months following Feb. 6 surgery to help the 76ers reach the playoffs, and his teammates weren’t surprised he kept playing in pain in Game 1.

“He’s always a fighter, he’s always going to try to go out there and give his all for his team,” All-Star Tyrese Maxey said. “So if he’s able to go, if he thinks he can go, then he for sure will be out there.”