Embiid focused on title after falling short of MVP
After helping the Philadelphia 76ers even up their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Atlanta Hawks with a dominant 40-point, 13-rebound outing, Joel Embiid wasn't dwelling on falling short of his first MVP award.
"It's disappointing because as a player, you work hard for moments like this. But then again, it's out of my control," Embiid said after finishing second to Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "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."
Embiid was considered neck-and-neck with Jokic as the leading MVP candidate before he missed 10 games with a knee bruise. Jokic, meanwhile, played in all 72 of the Nuggets' games this season.
Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers thought Embiid was "awesome" in the team's victory Tuesday and compared his effort to Houston Rockets Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon's masterful 41-point, 16-rebound display in Game 2 of the 1995 Western Conference finals. Olajuwon's commanding performance came after his opponent, San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson, received the Maurice Podoloff Trophy pregame.
"I remember being on the other side of the night that David Robinson got the MVP and we had to play (Hakeem) Olajuwon. I was on that Spurs team. That didn't go well for us," Rivers said. "Tonight, you felt like that was Joel. He was that magnificent."
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals is set for Friday in Atlanta.
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