The Philadelphia 76ers have championship aspirations — and their best player has positioned himself to earn the league’s biggest individual award.
All-Star center Joel Embiid scored 36 points and grabbed 13 rebounds on Friday versus the Los Angeles Clippers in another dominating performance. He got to the free-throw line 18 times (16-of-18 from the charity stripe) while fighting through double teams all night. The Sixers are now 20-2 when Embiid gets to the line at least 10 times. He’s strengthening his case for MVP more and more every day.
“I don’t think teams really know what to do when guarding him,” Sixers guard Ben Simmons said. “I think he’s clearly the MVP this season. He’s been so dominant. I don’t how to stop him.”
Doc Rivers on Joel Embiid: “Kevin Garnett was a four. I played with Patrick Ewing. I would combine those two together and make a Joel in some cases because he has a little bit of both of those.”
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) January 7, 2021
Embiid is averaging 11.8 trips to the line every game, plus 30 points and 11.1 rebounds per game in 38 contests this season. Some nay-sayers claim the 7-footer hasn’t played enough games to win the league’s most coveted award. Don’t put Sixers head coach Doc Rivers in that classroom.
“If I was voting, it would be Joel and then probably the kid in Denver,” Rivers said referring to Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. “Everything he’s done that I had seen on film, he’s better at it.”
Joel Embiid last 4 games:
Making his MVP push. pic.twitter.com/vew9DD8SIb
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 17, 2021
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Embiid Winning MVP in Court of Public of Opinion
It’s not just Embiid’s teammates that are jumping on the MVP train. Legendary college basketball coach Rick Pitino took to Twitter to give the Sixers’ big man a resounding vote of confidence after Friday’s game, saying “no doubt about it” in regards to his MVP candidacy.
Put it down, Joel Embid is the MVP if he’s stays healthy. No doubt about it.
— Rick Pitino (@RealPitino) April 17, 2021
“But when it comes to the MVP stuff, I feel like I’m still right there,” Embiid said earlier this week. “When I’m on the floor, I feel like I played the best all season. You know, just doing my thing, just dominating with the help of my teammates and coaches putting me in the right position to succeed.”
Despite missing a dozen games due to a knee bruise, Embiid is ascending up the KIA Ladder rankings for MVP on The Association’s official website. He’s listed at No. 3, right behind Jokic and Portland’s Damian Lillard.
“I think overall Joel is well deserved,” teammate Furkan Korkmaz said. “He’s deserving to be All-Star, but to say MVP, I think that’s a big point for him, that’s a big point for us. I think we should feel lucky to have him. We should appreciate him and I think he’s the best right now in the league.”
Embiid’s 36-point performance on Friday put him in rare air as he became the first Sixers player to score 35 or more points in three straight games since Allen Iverson in 2006. MVP. MVP. MVP.
Joel Embiid dropped a light 36 in a W tonight @JoelEmbiid
He is the first 76ers player with 3 straight 35-point games since Allen Iverson did so in 2006. pic.twitter.com/N0UoxXVTQ0
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 17, 2021
Sixers Get Time to Rest, Finally
It’s been a whirlwind second half since the All-Star break, one filled with long road trips and a slew of back-to-backs for the Sixers. Finally they get some much-needed rest. The team is off until Monday (April 19) when they host the Golden State Warriors at Wells Fargo Center.
Philadelphia has played five games in eight days, in addition to coming off a four-game road trip where they went 3-1. The Sixers have gone 7-2 in the month of April and hold the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but fatigue is always a factor.
“I thought they played really hard and I thought there were a lot of mistakes from both teams,” Rivers said after Friday’s 106-103 win. “A little bit of that was fatigue. You can see that. The harder and more tired you get, the brain is the first thing to cut off, and you can see that a little bit tonight.”
36 PTS | 14 REB | 1 STL
Another night, another MVP push for @JoelEmbiid.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 17, 2021