Joel Embiid turned in an MVP performance Saturday afternoon while matched up with Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who has beaten him out for the award the past two seasons, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Embiid posted 47 points, 18 rebounds and five assists and made several big plays late in the game to help the Sixers win the battle between two of the NBA’s best teams.
Embiid was a bit too focused on his individual matchup with Jokic early on, Neubeck observes, but he began to take over the game in the second quarter, showing off his full offensive arsenal. Many of Embiid’s points came via a two-man weave with James Harden that resulted in prime scoring opportunities.
Afterward, Embiid said he doesn’t have a personal rivalry with Jokic, but he felt it was “a little disrespectful” that he wasn’t named a starter when the results of this year’s All-Star voting were announced Thursday, relays Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“I’m used to it,” Embiid said of the snub. “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.”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- Georges Niang is headed for a sizable payday in free agency this summer, Neubeck adds. Niang contributed 14 points in about 18 minutes off the bench today, shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range. Neubeck calls Niang one of the NBA’s best bench shooters and expects a lot of teams to be interested when he hits the open market.
- Tyrese Maxey has adapted well to a reserve role since the Sixers changed their starting lineup earlier this month, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer states in a mailbag column. Coming into today, Maxey was averaging 22.4 points and shooting 41.9% on three-pointers in his first five games off the bench. However, Pompey views Maxey as a long-term starter and says he needs to improve his defense this summer so he’ll be a better fit alongside Harden.
- Luxury tax concerns will affect the Sixers’ strategy heading into the trade deadline, Pompey adds. Philadelphia is currently about $1.1MM over the threshold of $150.3MM, so Furkan Korkmaz or Jaden Springer could be unloaded to avoid the tax.