NBA

Embiid, 76ers take down the reigning MVP in statement-making performance

By Sports Desk January 28, 2023

Joel Embiid made it clear he is only concerned about winning a championship after dominating in the Philadelphia 76ers' 126-119 victory against reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

Embiid – who has finished runner-up in each of the past two MVP votes – was spectacular on Saturday, finishing with a game-high 47 points on 18-of-31 shooting, a game-high 18 rebounds and equal game-highs with three steals and two blocks.

He outplayed Jokic, who still posted a terrific stat line of 24 points (eight-of-12 shooting), nine assists and eight rebounds, but his seven turnovers were the third-most he has had in a game this season,

It continued a remarkable campaign for Embiid, improving his league-leading scoring average to a career-high 33.8 per game, while also shooting a career-best 53.2 per cent from the field. He is shooting a career-best 86.1 per cent from the free throw line while leading the league at 10.0 made free throws per game.

When asked after the win if he feels he should be the MVP, Embiid said he is no longer concerned about the award.

"I don't know, that's up to you guys to decide," he said. "Like I told you, I'm done arguing for myself. It's all out there.

"But the focus is on winning. As long as we win, I know everything is going to take care of itself. If we keep winning, and everyone stays healthy, I've got a better chance of going out there and winning a championship."

Embiid also had his streak of five consecutive selections as an All-Star starter snapped this past week as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum claimed the three frontcourt spots in the East.

He said he feels that is an indication that he is "not well-liked", but he is not bothered by it.

"I'm used to it," he said. "It's not the first time. I think it's more of a motivation to go out and win the whole thing – that's the only way I'm probably going to get that respect.

"I was not surprised, I think it's well documented that I'm not well-liked. That's cool. I don't know if it's because I troll a lot or that I guess I'm an a****** – but it's cool. 

"I keep being me, I keep being an a******, and I keep trolling, and if people don't like it, that's their problem. But like I said, it all goes back to winning."

The 28-year-old believes winning would cure everything, and that the current 76ers roster – with a healthy James Harden – has the balance required to go all the way.

"You've got James Harden, obviously he's been playing great basketball," he said. "You've got Tyrese Maxey, Tobias has been great, P.J. Tucker... we've got a group that fits with each other.

"We'll find that out in the postseason. But I think as far as the fit, you've got everything. Everybody fits with each other, we've got shooters, we've got defenders, and we've got James Harden. So I think we've got a good chance."

The 76ers are now 32-16, sitting second in the Eastern Conference while owning the third-best record in the league.

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