Philadelphia 76ers superstar center Joel Embiid has finished as the runner-up for the NBA MVP award to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic each of the last two seasons.
Just this past week, Embiid was snubbed out of the Eastern Conference All-Star starting lineup.
So it’s safe to say the big man from Cameroon had a little extra motivation when he and the Sixers welcomed Jokic and the Nuggets to Philadelphia on Saturday.
In a season already full of standout performances, this may have been Embiid’s best yet.
Denver took control of the game early. The Nuggets led 73-58 at the half. They maintained that lead for much of the third quarter, leading 99-84 with 2:27 left in the third.
But that’s when the Sixers, and Embiid, really began to turn it on. Philadelphia ripped off a 12-0 run to end the quarter, capped by six straight points from Embiid to cut the deficit to just 99-96 entering the final frame.
Once there, Philadelphia dominated led by its 7-foot-2 do-all center.
Embiid re-entered the game with 7:58 left on the clock and Denver leading 106-103. From there, Philadelphia outscored the Nuggets 23-13, including 12 points from Embiid. He capped the remarkable 47-point, 18-rebound performance with a step-back 3-pointer in Jokic’s face to put the game on ice with 30 seconds remaining. Philadelphia walked away with a 126-119 win.
EMBIID ICES THE GAME ON JOKIC 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/AcnIsV4Vvr
— ESPN (@espn) January 28, 2023
Basketball Twitter Loses Its Mind Over Joel Embiid Performance Against Jokic And Nuggets
NBA twitter could hardly believe what it was seeing.
Matchup of the year, and Embiid delivered an absolute ass kicking
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) January 28, 2023
Put some MF Respect on Embiid name. That’s how you make a statement and kick some ass big fella!!! He gave Jokic that straight Work… a 47 piece wing dinner “All Flats” with 18 biscuits and a MONSTER on the defensive end!!! Carry the hell on…
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) January 28, 2023
Hey NBA MVP voters: remember this day when you might be choosing between Jokic and @JoelEmbiid two months from now.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 28, 2023
Can someone calculate @JoelEmbiid’s VORP for me?
— Drew Hanlen (@DrewHanlen) January 28, 2023
Embiid is so sick of losing the MVP to this guy lol
— Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) January 28, 2023
Beyond Embiid’s remarkable individual performance, the win was a huge one for Philadelphia. Both teams came in as the hottest in their respective conference. Denver leads the Western Conference and was 11-3 in the month of January. Philadelphia is second behind Boston in the East and is 11-2 this month, including a now eight-game win streak.
The Sixers moved to 32-16 with the win and remained just 1/2 a game behind the Celtics. And as long as Embiid is playing like this and the Sixers are winning, the big man likely won’t stop his theatrics anytime soon