With a month left in the NBA's 2020-21 regular season, Nikola Jokic seems to be the frontrunner in the MVP race but Joel Embiid is making things interesting by closing the gap to the Serbian with a late-season push.
In seven games since returning from a knee injury, after missing 10 straight, the 7-foot center has led the Philadelphia 76ers to a 6-1 record with averages of 30.1 points and 9.6 rebounds.
Against the Clippers, in a tightly contested 106-103 victory, he finished with 36 points and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes including going 16-of-18 from the free-throw line.
Joel Embiid dropped a light 36 in a W tonight @JoelEmbiid- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 17, 2021
He is the first 76ers player with 3 straight 35-point games since Allen Iverson did so in 2006. pic.twitter.com/N0UoxXVTQ0
His performance helped the 76ers overcome Paul George's 37-point night, his career-best fifth straight game of scoring 30 or more. Thus, snapping the Clippers' seven-game win streak.
"I don't think teams know what to do when they're guarding him," All-Star Ben Simmons said of Embiid postgame. "I think he's clearly the MVP this season"
Although they have given up big early leads in both of their two most recent games, including this one, Embiid's play is a huge factor behind the 76ers recording back-to-back wins over teams at least 20 games above .500 in consecutive matchups for just the third time in franchise history.
A cool @EliasSports note on the Sixers.- Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) April 17, 2021
This is just the third time in franchise history they've had back-to-back wins, both vs. teams 20+ over .500 (Nets, Clippers).
The others: 1966 (Celtics twice)
1983 (Celtics, Bucks)
OK, back to baseball now!
Postgame, Embiid credited watching and studying old tapes of Dirk Nowitzki for most of his success and his improved play at the nail this season.
Despite missing 18 games, the Cambodian center leads the league in PER as per ESPN and the rankings on Basketball Reference. He's certainly making a push but can he make a strong enough MVP case to dethrone Nikola Jokic, who's played every game this season, to be the frontrunner or favourite?
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