SALT LAKE CITY — Philadelphia Sixers star Joel Embiid is one of the NBA’s hottest young centers.
Jazz big man Rudy Gobert is arguably the league’s best defensive center.
Posters are plastered all around Salt Lake City, promoting the two marquee players, as the 76ers are in town to face the Jazz at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
In a guard-dominated era, this sounds like a match made in heaven by the basketball Gods, right?
Unfortunately, that won’t be happening tonight as the Sixers have decided to rest Embiid, due to “load management,” according to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Enquirer.
“To be honest, they might overprotect him a little bit,” Gobert said during Tuesday’s shootaround. “If you have a player, you want him to get better, you want him to play against the best defense, against the best inside defense players.”
With a history of foot and knee injuries, Embiid’s minutes are being monitored closely by the organization.
Jazz vs. Sixers
Today, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia (5-4) has won four straight games and plans to make Embiid available Thursday in Sacramento, though, which has Jazz fans questioning their motives.
The outspoken Cameroonian averages 20.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on 52.1 percent shooting.
Gobert is the league’s top shot blocker, averaging 2.5 swats to go with his 13.9 points and 9.9 boards. He was last year’s runner-up to Golden State’s Draymond Green in the Defensive Player of the Year race.
“I’ve never really met him outside the court,” Gobert said of Embiid. “I know he speaks French. I know he’s pretty funny on Twitter, and I think sometimes it’s good to have fun on social media.”
Utah’s defense allows just 100.1 points per game, which is tied for fifth in the league, but has struggled, in back-to-back losses to Toronto and Houston by giving up 123 points — on average.
The Jazz (5-5) are looking to bounce back after an embarrassing 137-110 road loss to Houston Sunday, with James Harden going off for a career-high 56 points.
Rookie Ben Simmons is making his debut against the Jazz. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound Aussie is already drawing comparisons to LeBron James with his all-around playmaking ability. He has twice registered triple-doubles in the first nine games, while averaging 18 points, 9.8 boards and 8.2 assists.
Even without Embiid, Jazz coach Quin Snyder still expects Philadelphia to be competitive.
“They’re a very good team, they’ve played without him before,” Snyder said. “Obviously his post-ups and his usage rate is high.
“His post-ups are an element of their offense that isn’t there, but Ben Simmons is capable of posting, (Dario) Saric is capable of posting, (Jahlil) Okafor is capable of posting, so there is still a lot of similarities and what they’re committed to as much as anything is running.”
JAZZ NOTES: Jazz forward Ekpe Udoh is listed probable for tonight’s game with right lower leg soreness.