Updated: Jul 4
Article Written by Andrew Leeds
Originally Published on April 5, 2023
Things looked bleak heading into the Sixers' game against the Boston Celtics this past Tuesday night.
The Celtics had won all three of the teams previous encounters this season, and the MVP award seemed to be slowly slipping from Joel Embiid's grasp after a disappointing loss to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks this past Sunday night.
That loss, coupled with Embiid's decision to sit out last week's premiere matchup with fellow MVP candidate, Nikola Jokic at Denver, all seemed to be cooking up a heartbreaking meal that had a familiarly bitter taste for Embiid and Sixers fans everywhere. Having finished in second place for back-to-back seasons to "The Joker" both in 2021 and 2022, coming up so excruciatingly short yet again would completely take the wind out of the sails of the city of brotherly love.
Last night's game against Boston, however, certainly brought this nightmare scenario for fans of "The Process" to a defiant and emphatic end.
Scoring a staggering 52 points, along with an impressive13 rebounds and 6 assists for good measure, Joel Embiid displayed a level of dominance against a team in Boston that rivals all of his other greatest career performances, taking it's spot as an arguably top-three game of Embiid's career.
Not only did Embiid, who has historically given him great struggles in the past, score more than 50 points, but he did so an a historically-impressive level of efficiency, making 20 of his 25 shot attempts. Which is equivalent to 80 percent of his total shot attempts.
He also managed to reach more than 50 points without having to make a single three-point shot, something that only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis has done over the last four seasons.
Another ridiculous, although frankly more concerning stat regarding Embiid's performance last night, is that he scored 52 of the Sixers' 103 total points. This Means that Embiid alone outscored the rest of his teammates, singlehandedly accounting for more than 50 percent of the team's points last night in their 103-101 victory over Boston.
This level of carrying by a single player has been proven to be lackluster when it comes to achieving postseason success. While James Harden had a decent game in his own right, pitching in 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris left a lot to be desired, and the bench only managed to score a combined 10 points.
Regardless of the potentially harmful and doubtful postseason implications that this game has placed on the Sixers, one positive thing did become crystal clear: Joel Embiid is the 2023 Most Valuable Player in the NBA.
Being lucky enough to witness this performance in person was a genuine surreal moment, as Embiid completely took over the game from the opening jump to the closing minutes. His mid-range jumper became as automatic as a wide-open layup for the big fella, and the emphatic two-hand dunk he laid out to reach the 50-point mark will forever be a part of his MVP highlight reel after he finally takes home the award that has narrowly evaded him for years.