The NBA’s MVP race is going to come down to the final few days of the regular season, as the top candidates continue to amaze each and every night.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks all played on Tuesday night, meaning that Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the top three MVP candidates to many, were all on the court trying to gather more votes for the end-of-season award.
Very little separates these three players from one another and after their most recent performances, you can still make the case for any of these three guys to win this year’s MVP award!
Here is what Embiid, Jokic and Antetokounmpo did for their teams on Tuesday night.
Joel Embiid - Philadelphia 76ers: 76ers 131, Pacers 122
Tuesday’s Stats: 39 minutes, 45 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 18-30 FG
Season Stats: 30.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, 49.6 FG%
Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers made quick work of the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, even though the Pacers fought back in the second-half to make things somewhat interesting.
At the half, Embiid had 27 points and 7 rebounds, helping the Sixers take a 82-59 halftime lead over Indiana.
Now leading the league in scoring, Joel Embiid continues to impress each and every night he takes the court, putting up scoring numbers from a center that we have not seen since Shaquille O’Neal when he won the NBA’s MVP award during the 1999-00 season.
“It’s great, but the win is also great,” Embiid said in regards to passing LeBron James for the league-lead in scoring with limited games remaining this season. “So that’s all I can control. Just go out there and do whatever is needed. You know at times, like tonight, I started off the game and they doubled hard and tried to make the right plays. Also, my teammates got me a bunch of easy baskets, which got me going.”
All season long, Embiid has been one of the best offensive players in the entire league and recording his 44th double-double this season, the Sixers’ big man is now tied for fifth in the NBA in that department.
Since March 20, Joel Embiid has averaged 33.2 points, 13.4 rebounds and has shot 52.8% from the floor. In this same time span, Embiid has recorded nine consecutive double-doubles and has eclipsed 30 points on five different occasions.
Scoring 44 points and now 45 points in back-to-back games, Joel Embiid continues to make a very convincing case for MVP this season.
Nikola Jokic - Denver Nuggets: Spurs 116, Nuggets 97
Tuesday’s Stats: 40 minutes, 41 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 18-35 FG
Season Stats: 27.0 points, 13.7 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 58.1 FG%
Nikola Jokic is looking to win back-to-back MVP awards and it is hard to say that there has been a more complete player than him in the league all season long.
He can score, he can facilitate, he can rebound and now this season, Jokic has really stepped things up on the defensive-end of the floor, recording a career-high in total blocks on the year and getting close to recording a new career-high in total steals as well.
The Nuggets came up short against the Spurs on Tuesday night, losing by 19 points in Denver, but the reigning MVP was definitely not to blame, as he poured in 41 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.
Recording his 65th double-double on the season, Nikola Jokic continues to lead the league in double-doubles by a wide margin and he also leads the league in triple-doubles with a total of 19 of them on the year.
With Jamal Murray missing the entire season to this point and Michael Porter Jr. not playing since November, Nikola Jokic has been the only consistent scoring threat for the Nuggets all season long and the craziest statistic about Jokic’s season with the Nuggets is that he has led his team in points, rebounds and assists in 39 of his team’s 80 total games.
There is truly no better “do-it-all” guy in this league than Nikola Jokic and with him putting up better numbers than he did a season ago, it should not be shocking to see Jokic become the 13th player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards.
Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks: Bulls 106, Bucks 127
Tuesday’s Stats: 24 minutes, 18 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 7-13 FG
Season Stats: 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.4 blocks, 55.4 FG%
Compared to the numbers he had been putting up, Tuesday night was a bit of a letdown for Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Bucks still picked up a 21-point victory over the Chicago Bulls and most players in the NBA would love to have 18 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a game!
Through the years, Giannis Antetokounmpo has really turned himself into an all-around weapon on both ends of the floor and he is able to impact the game in so many ways other than going out and scoring 40 points, sometimes 50 points, on any given night.
In this game against the Bulls, Giannis was getting double-teamed early on, which resulted in him becoming more of a passer than key scoring weapon.
Struggling to find his groove offensively and getting into some foul trouble over the course of the game, Antetokounmpo only played a total of 24 minutes, but he was +12 in plus-minus for the game and opened up the floor for not only Khris Middleton to attack the Bulls’ defense, but for Brook Lopez to score in the paint as well, as Lopez went for a season-high 28 points.
Having a key game against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, who they are currently tied with record-wise in the Eastern Conference standings, getting Giannis Antetokounmpo some extra rest in this game against Chicago was highly necessary, especially since he has been nursing some right knee soreness over the last week.
While he did break his streak of ten straight games with at least 20 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo continued to prove his versatility on Tuesday night and as a result, he still remains close with Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic in the MVP race heading into the final few games of the regular season.
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