Update: Embiid has been ruled out for Monday’s game against the Nuggets.
The race for league MVP is going down to the wire and could very well be decided on Monday (3/27) when the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets play. The NBA’s two leading candidates for MVP, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, will face off for the second time this season and guard one another, giving voters a chance to make up their minds.
Embiid has seemingly overtaken Jokic in recent weeks by averaging an outrageous 34.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in 13 games thus far in March. Not to be outdone, Jokic is averaging 24.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 9.9 assists on the season, and playing even better numbers in March.
Head to head, he has better numbers, and the Nuggets have a better record, but the conversation has clearly shifted towards Embiid, who is leading the NBA in scoring again, something that a center hasn’t done since Shaquille O’Neal.
Monday’s showdown could settle the debate between Embiid and Jokic.
Jokic has won back-to-back MVPs, while Embiid has finished as the runner-up both times, making this game huge for both players. Jokic’s MVP 3-peat would put him in rare company, though that may actually hurt his chances. His hopes could hinge on this one game.
Considering that it will be in Denver and a potential NBA Finals preview, another huge game by Jokic could be enough to change the narrative back in his favor. However, Embiid won the team’s first matchup after dropping 47 points, and another win head-to-head against Jokic could seal the deal and net him his first MVP.
Of course, they could play each other to a stalemate, leaving voters the final two weeks to decide. That being said since this will only be the second time the two face off this season, it could give voters the rare chance to compare their games before having to make a final decision.
Overall, the MVP race could be won (or lost) when the 76ers take on the Nuggets on Monday. Embiid appears to be the frontrunner, but a big performance by Jokic could tip the scales back toward him.