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It Is Insane to Believe Joel Embiid Played Poorly Because He Didn't Win MVP

Liam McKeone
Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Last night, the Philadelphia 76ers got ran off the floor by the Miami Heat in a pivotal Game 5, losing 120-85. The final score tells the whole story there. The Sixers had nothing going all night and the Heat, conversely, had everything going. James Harden came crashing back to Earth after an electric Game 4 performance, while Joel Embiid never looked comfortable and didn't play the last 10 minutes of the fourth quarter. He finished with only 17 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes played.

Embiid's first half was particularly brutal as the big man posted six points on two-of-six shooting with a pair of rebounds. The Inside The NBA crew discussed at halftime why Embiid was so off that night and Charles Barkley posited that the news of Nikola Jokic's MVP victory rattled the Sixers big man. Apparently to the extent that he played his worst two quarters of the year in a potentially season-deciding matchup.

Barkley spurred a movement as Shannon Sharpe opened Wednesday's Undisputed arguing the same thing-- Embiid was too distracted by his MVP loss to play well.

This is ridiculous. An absurd line of thinking. Embiid obviously was not pleased that he didn't receive MVP for 2022; like every elite competitor, he believed he was better than all his counterparts this season and complained that the award dances to the tune of the narrative the media decides. Whatever that means.

It's still insane to think that it weighed so heavily on his mind that he played badly in the most important game of the year. It's insulting to the viewers' intelligence to even consider it.

Embiid didn't have a good game. That much is true. Why might that be? Well, Miami was one of the best defensive teams in the league this past season and were playing at home, so that might've had something to do with it. Oh, and there's the fact that Embiid broke a bone in his freaking face less than two weeks ago. When he also sustained a concussion. Days after the Sixers revealed he would have to play through a fractured thumb for the rest of the postseason. Any one of those three injuries would've knocked most guys out for a few weeks at least. Embiid missed all of two games.

We can have honest discussions about a bad game and legitimately critique the best players in the game. But to say Embiid tanked a playoff game because he didn't win a trophy does not qualify. Far from it.

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