Joel Embiid could have been motivated by the NBA MVP voting outcomes, the opportunity of taking place 0-2 within the Jap Convention semifinals or a mixture 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 subject objectives, 12 of 16 on free throws) and grabbed 13 rebounds, making him the first Sixers participant with a 40-10 playoff sport since Billy Cunningham in 1970. By means of the primary two video games of the collection in opposition to the Hawks, Embiid has now racked up 79 factors on 54.3 % capturing, which is unbelievable contemplating the All-Star is enjoying 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 received the 2020-21 NBA MVP award. Jokic earned 91 of 101 attainable first-place votes after enjoying in each regular-season sport 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 informed 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 arduous for moments like this,” Embiid mentioned. “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 superb probability.
“So I am not frightened about these awards and stuff. If and once I’m holding that trophy, anything will not matter.”
That is the reply you need to hear when you’re a Sixers fan. Clearly, Embiid would have most well-liked to complete forward of Jokic, however at solely 27 years previous, he is bought extra MVP-caliber seasons forward of him. His essential focus ought to 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 need to come out of the East facet of the playoff bracket. The Hawks have already proven they can be a troublesome out, and if the 76ers are capable of advance previous them, the Bucks or Nets will current an enormous problem within the Jap Convention finals.