‘We’ve got a good chance’: Embiid confident in Sixers after win

‘We’ve got a good chance’: Embiid confident in Sixers after win

PHILADELPHIA — After Joel Embiid he added 47 points, 18 rebounds and five assists to lead the Philadelphia 76ers came back from a 15-point deficit to defeat his rival for the NBA MVP award, Nikola Jokicand the Denver Nuggets He told ESPN on Saturday that he believes this year’s team is the best and deepest team he’s been on in his seven NBA seasons.

“I think so,” said Embiid, who is averaging a league-leading 33.8 points per game. “You’ve got James Harden, obviously, he has played great basketball. You’ve got Tyrese MaxeyTobias has been great, PJ Tucker … we have a group that fits together.

“We’ll find that out (for sure) in the postseason. But I think as far as the fit, you’ve got everything. Everybody fits together, we’ve got shooters, we’ve got defenders and we’ve got James Harden. So I think we’ve got a good opportunity.”

Embiid was all smiles after a truly dominant performance, one that came against Jokic, who Embiid has been runner-up to in each of the past two seasons for MVP, and two days after Embiid was dropped to start next . All-Star Game of the Month.

After narrowly missing out on starting in the East frontcourt, finishing behind Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum due to the fact that Tatum finished third to Embiid’s fourth in the fan portion of the voting, Embiid said it was “a little disrespectful” not to be selected as a starter, after being one each of the last five years .

“I’m used to it,” Embiid said. “It’s not the first time. I think it’s more of a motivation to go out there and win it all. It’s the only way I’m probably going to get that respect.”

“I wasn’t surprised,” Embiid continued, when asked what he thought when he saw the voting results Thursday night. “I think it’s well documented that I don’t really like it. That’s great. I don’t know if it’s because I troll a lot or because I assume I’m an asshole. But it’s great. I’m still me. I’m still being a jerk, and I’m still trolling, and if people don’t like it, that’s their problem. But like I said, it’s all about winning.”

He and the NBA-leading 76ers (32-16), now on a seven-game winning streak, won Saturday afternoon in large part because of Embiid’s dominant performance against his opponent, especially in the second part

Embiid’s second half: 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and two turnovers, finishing with a plus-22.

Jokic’s second half: Eight points on 2-for-5 shooting as well as four rebounds, four assists and six turnovers, three of which came in the final minutes of the fourth quarter as Philadelphia pulled ahead and put the game away .

And, during a 17-4 run midway through the fourth quarter, it was Embiid who scored nine straight points — hitting three jumpers over Jokic before hitting a putback 3-pointer that forced Denver coach Michael Malone , to call a timeout, which Philadelphia put. forward forever

He also has the respect of Jokic, who said Embiid is probably the most dominant player in the NBA.

“He’s very talented,” Embiid said. “Very curious. He knows how to play and takes the ball where he wants. He is a very good player.”

Beyond Embiid’s heroics, part of the reason for the switch: The 76ers sticking PJ Tucker on Jokic, a move 76ers coach Doc Rivers said he got from watching Tucker guard Jokic while he was with the Miami Heat last season

“It looked like at halftime we weren’t on (Jokic),” Rivers said of Jokic, who finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. “He was catching it where he wanted to catch it, and it’s a focal point of his offense that if (Tucker) can get up underneath him, catch him at the 3-point line, now those turnovers, you can go down. they don’t matter anymore, where in the first part he took everything by the elbows and down.

“Listen, Joel was phenomenal, he had 47 points, but we don’t win the game if PJ Tucker doesn’t play.”

Naturally, though, the topic of Embiid looking down the possibility of a third straight head-to-head battle with Jokic for the league’s MVP award came up after the game. And, as he has done repeatedly, Embiid has heaped praise on Jokic, saying he’s a tremendous player and that he has a lot of respect for him.

When given the chance to defend himself for MVP, and asked if it was a statement game, Embiid said he has.

“I don’t know. It’s up to you guys to decide,” Embiid told ESPN with a smile, referring to the media, which votes on the MVP and other season-ending awards. “Like I told you, I’m done arguing for myself. It’s all out there. Whatever I do.

“But the focus is on winning. As long as we’re winning, I know everything will take care of itself. If we keep winning and everybody stays healthy, I have a better chance of going out there and winning a championship. .”

And what’s clear is that while Embiid doesn’t know how the MVP vote will play out, he feels pretty good about where Philadelphia is with just over two months left in the regular season. After a slow start, which saw the 76ers lose four of their first five games and sit at .500 after a doubleheader loss at Houston on March 5, Philadelphia has gone 20-4 since then, the best record in the NBA during that span. – as well as their best offense, with an offensive rating of 120.1.

But as much as the 76ers playing, now Embiid wants to see more of them. In particular? He wants to see more consistency from both himself and the group as a whole, pointing to Saturday’s game, which saw Philadelphia give up 73 points in a lackluster first half defensively, before coming back in the second half to pull out the win . as an example of not being able to play a full 48 minute match.

“We show looks from time to time,” Embiid told ESPN. “But we haven’t been able to put together a 48-minute game. Like tonight, in the second half, we’ve been shut out. In the fourth quarter, we’ve been shut out. In the first half, we haven’t. So we still to assemble for 48 minutes.

“I want us to get to that point where we can do it in the regular season to get into the playoffs.”

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