Without Jimmy Butler, a matchup with James Harden and the Rockets should have been shot. And while Harden was definitely got his night on the night, it was the MVP candidate on the home team that made sure he was the only player on the rockets that could get going on Monday night.
Embiid sat for almost the fourth quarter, and still managed to put an insane line – 32 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and three blocks on 9/16 shooting (14/17 from the line), adding some dominant defense at the rim He was a massive +21 on the evening, almost a perfect inverse of Harden's-23 The 121-93 victory was a direct reflection of Embiid's talent.
Following Monday's otherworldly Joel Embiid performance, I asked Brett Brown whether he thought Embiid was getting his MVP race. The head coach offered an emphatic no and then gave a detailed explanation to the assembled press.
"Nope. All you really have to do is look what happens when we do not have him," said Brown. "Look at some of the first halves that he has produced that has forced opposition coaches to make incredible adjustments in the second half. In my eyes, it's not even close, he should have these types of conversations."
"More importantly, his leadership and his sort of growth recognizing the responsibility, he has been the city, with this program, and professional disposition, professional approach to practice and shootaround and film session, has been the best it has ever been for me in 2019 You take all of that, and then you say and he's doing this on the court? So the MVP thing expands in my eyes to many different areas that he's getting better. "
If you ask his teammates, that approach is the same, day after day, practice after practice, film session after film session. Standing out from another MVP frontrunner, probably the frontrunner, would be enough to get the juices flowing for anybody.
For Embiid, they say it's business as usual
"I gotta say, I feel like you tries to dominate every night," JJ Redick told reporters in the locker room after the game. "There is another gear, yeah, I think there are certain nights where he tries to reach that. And he's been a little banged up, [but he came] out today and just basically annihilated them. "
Empowering the situation When he was first asked about whether there is excess juice, he told reporters that a man like a guy like Harden is not going to get him going. Team success matters, all that jazz Basically, he gave the stock answer:
Nah, I do whatever my team needs me to do, and that's score the ball, be the best defensive player in the league, and be a playmaker All I care about is winning, and if MVP comes with it, great, but we're doing that lot
Later on Monday night, he seems to point to the exact opposite.
"It's fun, I love playing against guys, you guys may say they are better than me," said Embiid with a smile, "just to prove you guys that they're not."
Barring a massive push from the Sixers down the stretch this season, a similar to the late winning streak that powered them to the number. 3 seeds and 52 wins last season, it feels as if too much working against Embiid Harden is the dominant scorer at the top of the race, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been ridiculous and his Milwaukee Bucks is ahead of Philly in the standings, and a lot of Embiid's value comes on defense, an area MVP race is offensive in favor of discount production
But with the Sixers 2-1 to start their brutal January-February stretch, and Embiid dominating teams while dealing with a sore back, maybe this is the run where Embiid can truly state his case and butt in the conversation. He has the numbers to keep up anybody, he has visibility, and all he needs to do
If the voters do not follow, it seems clear he'll still have one vocal supporter in his corner.
"I've been with him now for five years. That growth has he showed through two naviculars, gaining weight, unsure if he's going to play, we sent him to the Middle East to find ways to recover," said Brown. "And to be her come back and be rewarded with a contract, be in an MVP conversation, her progression from back then to now is incredible … it's the overall growth and the leadership, especially that interests me the most."
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