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#pounditTuesday, June 6, 2023

Joel Embiid facing notable hurdle in his bid for MVP?

Apr 16, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) before game one of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As he closes in on the MVP award that has eluded him for his entire career, Joel Embiid may be facing an unforeseen foe.

The Philadelphia 76ers star Embiid was ruled out for Monday’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets due to a calf injury. Embiid’s absence denied fans the opportunity to see him go toe-to-toe with the NBA’s other top contender for MVP, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

The absence might also prove costly for Embiid in a different regard. Basketball statistician Jake Coyne noted that this is now Embiid’s 14th missed game of the season. Only one player has ever won NBA MVP during a season in which they had 12 or more absences (when Bill Walton won with the Portland Trail Blazers some 45 years ago).

Embiid’s MVP odds have recently made a big upward move, thanks largely to a recent eight-game winning streak for the 76ers. But while the games-played argument would also foreseeably affect a player like Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (who has missed 15 games so far this year), it wouldn’t so much with the durable Jokic (who only has a total of eight absences this year).

We know that Embiid is taking this year’s MVP race especially personally. He will be hoping that the voters do not penalize him for missing roughly 17 percent of the season (assuming Embiid plays every single game from here).

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