Joel Embiid returns to NBA MVP race after dominant week

By | November 19, 2022

By his personal admission, Philadelphia 76ers heart Joel Embiid obtained off to a gradual begin to the 2022-23 NBA season. Admittedly, that got here with a caveat, because the two-time MVP finalist famous earlier this month.

“I had a gradual begin in direction of my requirements, though a gradual begin for me remains to be a median of 27 [points]”Embiid mentioned after a win over the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 7. “However for my requirements, I obtained off to a gradual begin.”

That gradual begin is now a distant reminiscence, as Embiid single-handedly carried the Sixers to a formidable three straight wins whereas forcing his return to the NBA MVP race.

Embiid missed 4 of the Sixers’ first 10 video games attributable to “recovering from a proper knee damage” and battling the flu. Since his return, he is as soon as once more regarded just like the participant who led the league in factors final season.

With star goalkeeper James Harden sidelined with a foot damage, Embiid reasserted himself because the Sixers’ focus at each ends of the sector. He went for a season-high 42 factors on 14-of-25 capturing, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in a 121-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks final Saturday night time, however he managed to un-up himself 24 hours later.

Final Sunday, Embiid made NBA historical past when he scored a career-high 59 factors on 19-of-28 capturing to go along with 11 rebounds, eight assists and 7 blocks in a 105-98 win over the Utah Jazz. He turned the first player of the last 50 years to complete with at the least 50 factors, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks in a single sport.

“You can watch basketball for 30 years and never see 5 two-way performances as dominant as Embiid’s 59-point, seven-block masterpiece in opposition to the Utah Jazz on Sunday,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote. Friday.

After 4 well-deserved days off, Embiid and the Sixers had been again in motion in opposition to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night time. Not solely was Harden nonetheless out for that sport, however beginning ahead Tobias Harris sat out with a hip damage, whereas rising star Tyrese Maxey left shortly earlier than halftime after struggling a foot damage.

Regardless of dropping three starters all the second half, the Sixers nonetheless managed to tug off a 110-102 win over Milwaukee due to Embiid’s 32 factors, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. This efficiency helped him mark much more the historical past of the NBA.

Doing that in opposition to any crew can be superior. To do it in opposition to Antetokounmpo, who remains to be within the combine for MVP and Defensive Participant of the 12 months, together with Brook Lopez, who’s incomes a little bit of early season DPOY buzz, is otherworldly.

After Milwaukee went up 97-94 almost midway via the fourth quarter, Embiid scored or assisted on each Sixers discipline objective remaining. He scored six of the Sixers’ final eight factors, serving to them open a slim three-point lead and navigate to arguably their greatest win of the season.

Embiid is now +1200 to win MVP this season, based on FanDuel Sportsbook, behind solely Antetokounmpo (+260), Dallas Mavericks goalie Luka Doncic (+260), Boston Celtics ahead Jayson Tatum (+650) and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (+1000). With Harden not anticipated for an additional two weeks and Maxey’s short-term availability very involvedEmbiid could also be pressured to proceed carrying an enormous load forwards and backwards sooner or later.

Fortunately, after a rocky begin to the season, the Sixers’ schedule is about to be far more manageable over the subsequent two weeks. Every of their subsequent 5 opponents at the moment has a dropping document, and their three-game street journey round Thanksgiving comes up in opposition to the 4-13 Charlotte Hornets — which can be with out star guard LaMelo Ball — and the Orlando Magic twice.

The Sixers should not be trying to put an excessive amount of mileage on Embiid’s tires in November, however they might not have a selection till Harden and/or Maxey return. He made it clear that he was up for the problem as properly.

“One of many issues with me, as I discovered about my physique, is that there isn’t any higher means for me to be myself and are available again to myself than to only play basketball video games,” he mentioned after his profession night time out in opposition to Utah on Sunday. “I simply have to play each night time.”

Between his plantar fasciitis within the offseason and his current bout with the flu, it is fully comprehensible that Embiid obtained off to a gradual begin this yr (comparatively talking). However with him again in his MVP-caliber type, he is protecting up lots of the Sixers’ issues and bolstering his probabilities of bringing residence particular person gear this yr.

Until in any other case acknowledged, all statistics through NBA.com, PBPStats, Clear the glass The place Basketball Reference. All wage info through spotrac The place RealGM. All odds through FanDuel Sports activities Betting.