With just a week left in the NBA season, there were still doubts about which of the three MVP candidates would take the hardware as of Tuesday afternoon.
But on Tuesday night, Joel Embiid silenced any people who doubted he would win MVP.
Embiid’s 52 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and two blocks single-handedly took the 76ers to a win over the Celtics. With the incredible game, the big man just about locked up the 2023 MVP award.
Embiid has had a lot of incredible scoring games, but Tuesday’s may have been his most impressive.
He shot a scorching-hot 20-25 from the field, dominating the paint and knocking down just about every mid-range shot he took. Every shot that went up felt like it was going in.
Embiid outscored all of his teammates on Tuesday, with the rest of the Sixers only putting up 51 points.
The unlimited scoring of Embiid is one of the biggest reasons he’s almost certain to win this year’s MVP; He was starting to slip in his pursuit of a second-straight scoring title lately, but his 52-point effort all but locked that up, as he’s now averaging 33.3 points per game.
Luka Doncic is second in scoring, averaging 32.8 points per game, and would have to go on a scoring tear over the last three games to steal the scoring title.
Embiid’s incredible regular season looks like it will be rewarded with a scoring title and an MVP; Now, he will begin to focus on the playoffs.
Other Candidates Falter
The MVP race has been narrowed to Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo for some time now. Each day brought a new favorite.
While Antetokounmpo may still have an argument with his Bucks at the top of the league, Jokic may have lost his last chance to win the MVP.
Tuesday night against the lowly Rockets, Jokic had just 14 points and eight turnovers in a loss. On a night where Antetokounmpo had a triple-double and Embiid went for 50, it would seem that the Nuggets center took himself out of the race.
At the same time, Embiid has been ahead of Antetokounmpo all year in the race, so it’s unlikely he could lose that lead.
Embiid has played in more games than Antetokounmpo, and averages more points, blocks and steals per game while maintaining similar efficiency from the field.
Again, Embiid put a lock in the MVP race on Tuesday. There may still be areas that Jokic or Antetokounmpo are better, but Embiid’s true two-way dominance is going to get him the hardware.
76ers Clicking Ahead of Postseason
Outside of the MVP race, Tuesday’s win over the Celtics didn’t have a huge impact on the standings, but it was big for morale and chemistry for the 76ers going into the playoffs.
They had been 0-3 against Boston this season. Winning the last matchup was significant for momentum purposes; These two teams look destined for a second-round matchup, and Philadelphia needed to see that they’re capable of finally beating the Celtics.
It is worth noting that Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams both didn’t play for Boston on Tuesday. Those two will bring a different dynamic to a playoff series, and that’s something the 76ers have to be prepared for.
As the playoffs approach, Embiid looks as good as he’s ever been. James Harden has gotten back into good form recently as well, and he posted 20 points and 10 assists against Boston.
Philadelphia needs others to step up in the playoffs, though. Harden and Embiid can’t do it all.
This 76ers team has potential for a championship run, but it will come down to how other guys step up if that is going to become reality.
Featured image courtesy of Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
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