Embiid hails Jokic as MVP and questions his own candidacy

MIAMI — Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid praised Nikola Jokic for winning the NBA Most Valuable Player award for a second straight season, adding Tuesday night that there was “no right or wrong.” wrong” answer from among several deserving candidates.

But Embiid also said that going forward he would only focus on “the big picture” – winning a championship.

“No,” Embiid replied, when asked if he was surprised when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced on Monday that Jokic would win the award again. “I mean, that’s something I knew weeks ago, even probably two weeks before the end of the season, after those games against Denver and Milwaukee, and when [ESPN did its] straw poll or other. I just knew it wouldn’t happen.

“Obviously congratulations to Nikola. He deserved it. He had an amazing season. There’s no right or wrong. There were a lot of candidates. It could have gone either way. Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Devin Booker, being by far the best team in the league. So I guess every year it’s all about what you decide, whatever fits the narrative in terms of who’s going to win. »

Embiid was one of three finalists for the award for the second year in a row, having put together arguably the best season of his career – an NBA record 30.6 points per game, along with 11.7 rebounds and 4 .2 assists in 68 games, a career high. .

“I’m not mad,” Embiid said of not winning the MVP title (the NBA is expected to make an official announcement on the winner later this week). “I’ve put myself in this position for two years in a row. It hasn’t happened. It’s almost like, at this point, it’s crap. Whatever happens, it happens .

“Last year I campaigned on this. This year I answered questions when asked, and in the next few years until I retire, it’s almost like… .like I said, I wonder what else I have to do to win and for me, it’s like, at this point, it’s like, it’s nonsense. It’s all about focus, not that I wasn’t focused on the big picture, but you know, it’s really time to really put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is winning it all.”

Embiid also took issue with a comment from The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, who said on a podcast last month, “F— Jalen Green,” when discussing Green’s possible bid for the rookie team while playing for the Houston Rockets, the worst in the league. . (Simons tweeted later an explanation of his position).

Members of the media vote on NBA awards.

“What if Jalen Green was able to earn a supermax, or I don’t know, an All-Star appearance and somebody sound like that, and he’s got a lot of power,” Embiid said. “[Simmons] can influence many other members of the media

“I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that’s OK. So that’s really the only thing I said about those awards.”

Embiid’s hopes of winning a championship this season met a significant hurdle on Tuesday night, as the Sixers lost to the Miami Heat 120-85 in Game 5 to fall to a 3-2 series hole. They are one loss away from being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

The 76ers looked listless from the first tip, and universally agreed that was the case after the game, as Miami took an early lead and never looked back.

“They were just so much more committed, more physical, they got us out of stuff,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “There’s a lot of disappointment from all of us tonight.”

James Harden added: “I think we just weren’t engaged defensively, and that slowed our offense down. We need to be engaged. We need to be locked down. In the second round of the playoffs, on the road in a Game 5 , it’s not enough to play hard. You have to play hard. You have to be able to think, possession by possession, and we just haven’t collected enough thinking possessions.

Embiid was on the ground for a long time in the second quarter when he was hit in the right side of the face – where he suffered a fracture in Game 6 of the Toronto series – after Heat backup center Dewayne Dedmon hit the ball as Embiid grabbed a rebound and the ball went back into Embiid’s face.

Luckily for the 76ers, Embiid eventually got up and was checked out by team doctors, and he never left the game.

“I don’t think so,” Embiid said, when asked if he was worried about aggravating his injury while playing. “Obviously I’m not a specialist. I just listen to the doctors. I don’t think so.

“So it’s just a matter of pain tolerance. It’s a losing situation for me. If I don’t play, you know, I’ll probably be called soft. If I play and I play badly, let’s probably say , probably come I guess it’s just not good enough So it’s just a matter of trying not to go too high or too low and just going out there and really trying to dig very deep and try to do all I can.

What he and the 76ers need to do now is avoid elimination at home in Game 6 on Thursday.

“I’m pretty confident,” Embiid said.

“We lost 2-0, [then] we tied it. We have it within us. We have much more [to give], and I was not myself. Even in those two wins. I didn’t think I played well. I thought my presence on the pitch was important for us, especially defensively. But offensively, I just wasn’t aggressive. I’m kind of not saying I want to force the issue, but kind of letting the game come to me. As you see, they don’t let the game come to me.

“So I think, just go back and watch a movie and find ways to really, really have an impact and try to be, try to get back to that dominant self that I can be.”

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