Joel Embiid Drops 52, Doc Rivers Makes Bold Claim About MVP Race

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Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 04: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots over Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center on April 04, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Doc is backing his star player.

The NBA MVP race has been heating up over the regular season's final weeks. The consensus opinion was that Nikola Jokic was set to be the first three-peat MVP since Larry Bird. However, a career season by Sixers center Joel Embiid has made the race much closer. Embiid has been in the MVP conversation for the past few years, even if he has personally shunned award talk. Even as Embiid stayed focused on winning, experts began to back him for MVP. In late March, oddsmakers made Embiid odds-on favorite to win the award.

Embiid's most recent feat of heroics came against the Boston Celtics. Embiid dropped a 52-point double-double in a 103-101 win. The win kept the Sixers in the race for the Eastern Conference's second seed. In regards to Embiid's MVP status, no one was more convinced following Tuesday's win than Sixers head coach Doc Rivers. Rivers is in his third season leading the Sixers, improving year-on-year in the regular season but never progressing past the Conference Semifinals. But with Embiid's transcendence, could this be the year?

Doc Rivers Declares MVP Race "Over"

Doc Rivers didn't mince words when talking about Embiid's performance, declaring that "the MVP race is over". It's a bold, almost hyperbolic statement on its own, but Rivers was sure to back up his claim. "The man just scored half our points," Rivers said while acknowledging that it was a difficult win. However, the veteran head coach was not the only person to voice their support for Embiid.

"Joel should win it," said James Harden, who scored 20 points in the win, "he's been really consistent this year". If Joel Embiid does win, he would be the first Sixer to be named MVP since Allen Iverson in the 2000/01 season. The Sixers have three games left to play in the regular season. They face Miami at home before playing the Hawks and Nets on the road. In the standings, Philadelphia is third in the East, two games behind the Boston Celtics. With the second seed still within reach, Doc Rivers is likely to keep letting Embiid shine.

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About The Author
Benjamin Mock (they/them) is a sports and culture writer working out of Philadelphia. Previously writing for the likes of Fixture, Dexerto, Fragster, and Jaxon, Ben has dedicated themselves to engaging and accessible articles about sports, esports, and internet culture. With a love for the weirder stories, you never quite know what to expect from their work.