AP Photo/Nick Wass
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid’s 36 points, eight rebounds and three steals guided the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed to a dominant 132-103 win over the Washington Wizards in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Saturday.
After the game, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks provided a tip of the cap to the NBA MVP candidate, whose 36 points marked a career high for him in the playoffs.
“I can’t imagine anybody playing better than him,” Brooks told reporters. “That was MVP level tonight.”
Embiid was nearly invincible, shooting 14-of-18 from the field (3-of-4 from three-point range) in his 28 minutes. Philadelphia outscored Washington by 29 with him on the floor.
He was simply a menace everywhere he went as the 76ers toyed with the Wizards defense:
He’s averaged 29.7 points per game in six matchups against Washington this season, and Philadelphia has won each of those contests.
Embiid very likely won’t be winning the MVP, although he’s likely second in the race to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who led the NBA with .301 win shares per 48 minutes and a 31.3 player efficiency rating, according to Basketball Reference. Embiid was second in both of those stats.
However, Embiid and the 76ers are the clear front-runners to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, and if the big man keeps playing at an MVP-like level, then the team’s first championship since 1983 could be in sight.