But that size difference didn't stop the Pelicans' undrafted rookie from going at the MVP candidate when the two teams met up on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
With 4:45 left in the second quarter, an Embiid foul sent Pelicans veteran guard Garrett Temple to the ground. That's when Alvarado stepped up and went chest-to-chest with Embiid and the two exchanged words, drawing a double technical foul.
On Thursday afternoon, Alvarado told reporters that Embiid said he'd cover the fine associated with the technical foul. Following the Sixers' 105-87 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, Embiid explained why.
"I just like his energy. He plays hard. He competes. Even when he picked up the tech, he wasn't backing down," said Embiid, who admitted he didn't expect to have to talk about his good deed. "He was just regular trash talk. Just two guys going at each other on the basketball court. He didn't back down. I respected that. I like that about him.
"After the game, I just went up to him and told him to keep fighting and keep it going and obviously, that other part. ... I just felt like the least I can do because I made him pick up a tech and he doesn't make as much as other guys in the league. I just felt like that was on me and I didn't want him to lose that money because I'm sure we all need it."
Since he's on a two-way contract this season, Alvarado will make $462,629 this season. Embiid is set to make $31.6 million and will have made more than $132 million in salary over the course of his eight-year career when the season is wrapped up.
The NBA fines players $2,000 for technical fouls 1-5 in the regular season, $3,000 for techs 6-10 and $4,000 for techs 11-15. Once a player hits 16 technical fouls, the fine jumps to $5,000 plus a one-game suspension, with each additional technical foul costing $5,000 as well.
Alvarado and Embiid barked at each other throughout the game as Alvarado never backed down from the Sixers center.
"We talked during the game. It was all love and respect," Alvarado said. "It was all heat of the moment. Nothing personal. It was just two ballplayers going at it. We're playing basketball. We were trying to go at each other. He knew after the tech and the foul, he told me at the free throw line to keep going and way to work and stuff like that. It was nothing personal from the jump."
ESPN's Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.
Embiid didn't want Alvarado to lose money over their spat
Joel Embiid explains why he paid Pelicans rookie Jose Alvarado's fine for a technical foul related to a spat they had in a game.