This season’s NBA Most Valuable Player race is set to be one of the tightest in league history.
Following a short injury reprieve for the Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid, in which he missed a head-to-head matchup against his most direct competitor for the award.
Denver Nuggets All-NBA center Nikola Jokic, the odds that either of these two big men could be hoisting the Michael Jordan MVP trophy at the end of the season landed at practically even.
Since then, though, the Joker has seemingly lost one of his main edges over Embiid in the discussions: games played. Jokic has gone down with a calf strain — which is funnily enough the same injury that kept Embiid out of the Sixers and Nuggets recent clash — and has already missed three straight games due to the ailment.
With only five games left on Denver’s regular season schedule, even if the Joker is available for all five, he may only end his year with four more games played than Joel Embiid.
Of course, that would rely on Embiid appearing in all of the Sixers’ remaining four games as well. While it’s certainly plausible that the Cameroonian Giant will miss one or more of his team’s last few contests, it’s more of a possibility that Jokic misses some more time than Embiid does.
The Sixers are still currently vying for position in the Eastern Conference standings, currently three games behind the Boston Celtics for the second seed in the East and just two-and-a-half games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers who are on their tails in the fourth slot.
While the Denver Nuggets haven’t mathematically locked up the top seed in the Western Conference race, yet, they do hold a comfortable three-game lead over the second-place Memphis Grizzlies who only have four games left in their regular season.
The Joker may not have to play another game for the Nuggets to secure homecourt advantage for the entirety of their postseason run, and the Nuggets may want to be cautious with his calf injury to avoid any reaggravation that may cost them their title hopes.
Due to his three games missed already from the injury, Embiid has started to create separation in the MVP race, currently the odds-on favorite for most major sportsbooks. He currently sits at -230 to win MVP with FanDuel.
With his MVP chances slipping through his fingers combined with the Nuggets lead in the standings, it’s certainly a possibility that we’ve seen the last of the Joker in the 2022-2023 NBA regular season.
“Nikola Jokic is giving up more points when trying to defend layups than any player in the history of the player tracking era (since 2013)”
(h/t @RTNBA ) pic.twitter.com/6e3c0OmDjT
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) April 1, 2023
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| Title: Have we seen the last of Nikola Jokic in the 2022-2023 NBA regular season?
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: April 4, 2023