NBA: Joel Embiid scores 52 as 76ers hold off Celtics | Inquirer Sports
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NBA: Joel Embiid scores 52 as 76ers hold off Celtics

/ 03:39 PM April 05, 2023

ania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots a technical foul shot against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center.

 Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots a technical foul shot against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid enhanced his MVP credentials with a 52-point masterclass as the Philadelphia 76ers held off a furious late rally from the Boston Celtics to win a hard-fought battle of the Eastern Conference heavyweights on Tuesday.

Embiid – one of the front-runners for the NBA’s regular season Most Valuable Player award – produced a towering performance in a 103-101 victory in Philadelphia that all but extinguished second-placed Boston’s hopes of winning the top-seeding in the East.

The Celtics must now win all three of their remaining regular season games and hope that Milwaukee lose their final three fixtures to snatch first place and the all-important home advantage in the playoffs.

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Embiid finished with 52 points from 20-of-25 shooting while hauling in 13 rebounds and laying on six assists, while James Harden finished with 20 points.

P.J. Tucker was the only other Sixers player in double figures, with the bulk of his 11 points coming from a flurry of three-pointers late in the fourth quarter.

However, the third-placed Sixers were given a scare down the stretch, when they almost blew a 103-96 lead with just 10 seconds remaining to allow Boston to get back to within two points.

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Celtics star Jayson Tatum missed a late two-point effort on the buzzer that could have forced overtime.

Embiid was unhappy with the Sixers’ late wobble that almost cost his team their first victory over Boston this season.

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“I don’t know what we were doing,” Embiid said. “We’ve got to be better than that, me included. We’ve just got to be better.

“Offensively we were not good enough and defensively we got stops when we needed them. But we’ve got to be better than that – we might see them down the road.”

 ‘MVP race is over’

Apr 4, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) drives against Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center.

Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) drives against Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers coach Doc Rivers said Embiid’s virtuoso performance ought to settle any debate about the identity of this season’s MVP award-winner.

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“There were so many things we did wrong tonight — but what we did right was Joel Embiid,” Rivers said.

“The man just scored half our points in an NBA game. I’m biased, but the MVP race is over.”

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TAGS: Joel Embiid, MVP, Philadelphia 76ers

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