Joel Embiid focused on playoffs, staying healthy despite MVP snub

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) rebounds the ball past Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) during the third quarter in game two of the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid usually isn’t one to hold back on how he’s feeling, or what’s bothering him, so naturally, he made his disappointment known after he lost out on the 2021 NBA MVP Award — which he thought he had in the bag just a couple months ago.

Instead, it went to Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, who became the first center to win the award since Shaquille O’Neal did so with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000.

Individual awards aside, Embiid is still playing basketball and his Sixers are favored to get to the conference finals.

“It’s disappointing because as a player, you work hard for moments like this,” Embiid said. “But then again, it’s out of my control. There’s nothing I can do about it. You just got to come out every year and just be ready and do my job.

“But I’m focused on the playoffs, I’m focused on winning the championship. Like I’ve been saying all season, we got a good chance. So I’m not worried about those awards and stuff. If and when I’m holding that [Larry O’Brien] Trophy, anything else won’t matter.”

They’ll look to get ahead of the Atlanta Hawks after a somewhat surprising split in Philadelphia that featured the underdogs put on a shooting clinic in Game 1.

The Philadelphia 76ers will face the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 on Friday night.Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia regained its footing to tie the series in Game 2 behind a 16-point victory that featured Embiid dropping 40 points.

The outing provided some more comfort that Embiid will be able to hit his top form — or something close to it — after some uncertainty surrounding his health after dealing with a partially torn meniscus in his right knee that he suffered during the first round against the Washington Wizards.

“I’m trying to do the best I can, limited movement and all. I’m trying to be a better presence around the rim. Obviously not being 100% doesn’t help, but tonight I just wanted to be big,” Embiid said, as he’s wary about his defensive game against an explosive Hawks offense headlined by Trae Young. “It’s tough because if I come up, they throw the lob. If I stay back, it goes with that floater.”


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