CLEVELAND – Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid says he does not know what else to do to win this season’s MVP after scoring 44 points Sunday night in a 112-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He also made 17 free throws, added 17 rebounds and 5 blocks, made three 3-pointers and had three assists in 38 minutes.
Embiid has 11 games with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds this season; only Russell Westbrook (12) and Moses Malone (12) have had more in one season since the 1976-77 merger. Both players won MVPs during those seasons.
“When it happens, great,” Embiid said of winning his first MVP. “If it does not, I do not know what to do. I will feel that they hate me. I feel that the standard for boys in Philly or for me is different from everyone else.”
Embiid finished behind Denver Nuggets center and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic in ESPN’s latest MVP straw poll released last week. Jokic is also the heavy betting favorite to win the prize, with -300 odds via Caesars Sportsbook. Embiid has the second shortest overpower at +270.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers says Embiid’s passing, defense and leadership parts of his well-rounded game are being ignored.
“I know he’s my husband, of course,” Rivers said before Sunday’s game. “He just did so many things.”
Rivers credits Embiid for pulling the Sixers through “the Ben Simmons saga.”
“He was our second best player at the moment and was out, and during the All-Star break when we made the trade, we were a game of first place in the East,” Rivers said. “There’s a lot to say about that.”
James Harden, who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in his second triple-double with Philadelphia, also had a resounding command for his co-star after the game.
“I can witness his greatness every night,” Harden said. “Obviously, his offensive numbers last night were self explanatory. Defensively, he was very active with blocking shots, changing shots and hiding the paint was key.”
Embiid, 28, is averaging 30.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game this season.
The Associated Press and ESPN’s statistics and information contributed to this story.