Joel Embiid might have been motivated by the NBA MVP voting outcomes, the potential for taking place 0-2 within the Japanese Convention semifinals or a mix of each. No matter it was, the 76ers heart performed with a stage of drive Tuesday that the Hawks simply could not match.
In Philadelphia’s 118-102 win over Atlanta, Embiid scored 40 factors (13 of 25 on area targets, 12 of 16 on free throws) and grabbed 13 rebounds, making him the first Sixers player with a 40-10 playoff game since Billy Cunningham in 1970. By means of the primary two video games of the sequence towards the Hawks, Embiid has now racked up 79 factors on 54.3 p.c capturing, which is unbelievable contemplating the All-Star is taking part in with a lateral meniscus tear in his proper knee.
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The 76ers’ victory got here on the identical evening that the NBA introduced Nuggets star Nikola Jokic had won the 2020-21 NBA MVP award. Jokic earned 91 of 101 possible first-place votes after taking part in in each regular-season recreation and posting averages of 26.4 factors, 10.8 rebounds and eight.3 assists. Embiid, who averaged 28.5 factors and 10.6 rebounds in 51 regular-season contests, led all gamers with 62 second-place votes.
When requested in regards to the voting outcomes after Sport 2, Embiid instructed reporters that he hasn’t been centered on awards all through the second half of the season and “simply wished to prepare for this second.”
“It is disappointing as a result of as a participant you’re employed exhausting for moments like this,” Embiid said. “However then once more, it is out of my management. There’s nothing I can do about it. I simply gotta come out yearly and simply be prepared and do my job. I am centered on the playoffs. I am centered on successful the championship. Like I have been saying all season, we have a great likelihood.
“So I am not nervous about these awards and stuff. If and once I’m holding that trophy, anything will not matter.”
That is the reply you wish to hear in the event you’re a Sixers fan. Clearly, Embiid would have most popular to complete forward of Jokic, however at solely 27 years outdated, he is bought extra MVP-caliber seasons forward of him. His predominant focus must be on this playoff run.
Philadelphia is a respectable title contender so long as Embiid can stay wholesome, however there’s loads of work left to do if the 76ers wish to come out of the East facet of the playoff bracket. The Hawks have already proven they shall be a tricky out, and if the 76ers are capable of advance previous them, the Bucks or Nets will current an enormous problem within the Japanese Convention finals.