CLEVELAND — Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid says he doesn’t know what else he has to do to win MVP this season after scoring 44 points in a 112-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.
He made 17 free throws, added 17 rebounds and 5 blocks, made three 3-pointers and had three assists in 38 minutes.
Embiid has 11 games with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds this season; only Russell Westbrook (12) and Moses Malone (12) have had more in a single season since the 1976-77 merger. Both players won MVPs in those seasons.
“If it happens, great,” Embiid said of winning his first MVP. “If it doesn’t, I don’t know what I have to do. I’ll feel like they hate me. I feel like the standard for guys in Philly or for me is different than everyone else.”
Embiid finished behind Denver Nuggets center and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic in ESPN’s latest MVP straw poll released last week. Jokic is also the heavy betting favorite to win the award, with -300 odds via Caesars Sportsbook. Embiid has the second-shortest odds at +270.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers says Embiid’s passing, defense and leadership are overlooked parts of his well-rounded game.
“I know he’s my guy, obviously,” Rivers said before Sunday’s game. “He has just has done so many things.”
Rivers credits Embiid for pulling the Sixers through “the Ben Simmons saga.”
“He was our second-best player at the time and was out, and at the All-Star break when we made the trade, we were a game out of first place in the East,” Rivers said. “There’s a lot to be said about that.”
James Harden, who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in his second triple-double with Philadelphia, also had a ringing endorsement for his co-star after the game.
“I get to witness his greatness every night,” Harden said. “Obviously, his offensive numbers tonight are self-explanatory. Defensively, he was very active blocking shots, changing shots and clogging the paint up was key.”
Embiid, 28, is averaging 30.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game this season.
The Associated Press and ESPN’s Stats & Information contributed to this story.
This story originally Appeared on ESPN