Sixers center Joel Embiid is continuing the scoring binge that has made him the new betting favorite in the MVP race, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. After posting 15 points in the first half of Saturday’s win at Indiana, Embiid dominated the third quarter with 16 points while making 5-of-7 shots from the field.
The 31-point outing was Embiid’s ninth consecutive game with at least 30 points, breaking the franchise record he shared with Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain. It also earned him the support of Pacers coach Rick Carlisle in the MVP debate.
“Embiid, right now, he’s probably the MVP with what their team is doing and how he’s elevated his game,” Carlisle said. “He’s as difficult a guy to game plan for as there is in the game. He’s a walking NBA cheat code right now. He’s just that good.”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- The Sixers transformed from underachievers to potential title winners when James Harden returned in early December after missing 14 games with a strained foot tendon, Pompey observes in another Inquirer article. Philadelphia has the best record in the league since Harden’s second game back, and Pompey credits that to the guard’s decision to facilitate the offense rather than look for his shot. It has also coincided with Embiid’s ascension into MVP front-runner. “Obviously, Joel is going to do what he does,” Harden said. “Making sure Tobias (Harris) and Tyrese (Maxey) and Georges (Niang) and our shooters get their shots. You get that feeling from everybody and everybody clicking like that, which is why rhythm (is) going to be key for us in the playoffs.”
- P.J. Tucker sat out Saturday’s game with an ankle issue and wasn’t able to participate in this morning’s shootaround, Pompey tweets. He’s listed as questionable for tonight’s game against Chicago.
- Temple University has expressed interest in hiring Sixers assistant Sam Cassell as its head coach, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Cassell, who has been with the organization since 2020, is focused on his current duties with the team rather than looking for another job, according to Scotto’s sources. Scotto notes that Cassell has worked closely with Maxey since he arrived in Philadelphia.