Joel Embiid didn’t get the MVP trophy he thought he deserved, so he turned his attention back to the pursuit of an NBA title, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Shortly before the start of Tuesday’s game, Denver’s Nikola Jokic was announced as this year’s MVP, with Embiid finishing a distant second. The Sixers center responded to the news with 40 points and 13 rebounds in a Game 2 win over Atlanta.
“It’s disappointing because as a player, you work hard for moments like this,” Embiid said. “But then again, it’s out of my control. There’s nothing I can do about it. You just got to come out every year and just be ready and do my job. But I’m focused on the playoffs, I’m focused on winning the championship. … So I’m not worried about those awards and stuff. If and when I’m holding that (Larry O’Brien) Trophy, anything else won’t matter.”
Embiid has been dominant in the first two games against the Hawks, averaging 39.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocks per game despite dealing with a small meniscus tear in his right knee that he suffered in round one. He admits having “limited mobility,” but said he’s found ways to adjust his game to still be effective.
“No excuses,” teammate Tobias Harris said. “He understands that. This is the playoffs. The way the NBA season was, I don’t think anybody is 100%. So when he steps on the floor, he has that attitude and that mentality that it’s, ‘win.'”
There’s more on the Sixers:
- After playing just 38 seconds in the series opener, Shake Milton became a difference maker in Game 2, notes John Schuhmann of NBA.com. The third-year guard came off the bench to score 14 points and help Philadelphia break open a close game.
- Another low-scoring performance by Ben Simmons is reviving questions about how far the Sixers can advance in the playoffs with minimal production from their second-best player, points out Brad Botkin of CBS Sports. Simmons finished with four points and only took three shots from the field in Game 2.
- Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic looks at how Seth Curry has been able to rise from his early days in the G League to be an important contributor on a playoff team. Curry, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Mavericks, is averaging 24.0 PPG in his last three games.