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- Joel Embiid is expected to return on Saturday when the Sixers play the Timberwolves.
- Embiid has not played since March 12th due to a bone bruise in his left knee.
- He was the MVP betting favorite prior to his injury but has slipped in the odds boards in the last three weeks.
The Philadelphia 76ers are expecting to get Joel Embiid back on Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Joel Embiid is expected to return Saturday vs. Minnesota after missing three weeks with a knee injury, per @ShamsCharania pic.twitter.com/kNUlnfNwnw
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 1, 2021
Embiid has not played since March 12th when he suffered a bone bruise in his left knee. He has missed the Sixers’ last nine games and despite Ben Simmons’ and the crew holding the fort with a 6-3 record during that span, the Sixers have now yielded the Eastern Conference’s top spot to the red hot Brooklyn Nets.
The Sixers are 33-15 on the season, one-half game behind the Nets. With Brooklyn expected to get Kevin Durant back soon, it’s a good thing if the Sixers get Embiid back too so Philly can have a good shot a giving the Nets a run for the top seed in the East.
Embiid and the MVP Race
Where does Joel Embiid currently sit in the MVP race? https://t.co/00ceU8HSwL
— The Sixer Sense (@SixerSense) March 31, 2021
One day or two before he got hurt, depending on which of the best NBA betting sites you use, Embiid had climbed to the top of the 2021 NBA MVP odds boards, overtaking Los Angeles Lakers’ star LeBron James. Across 31 games played this season, Embiid was averaging a career-high 29.9 points per game while also putting up 11.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.4 BPG, and 1.2 SPG. He was also shooting at a career-best pace, with his shooting splits of .525/.422/.859 the best in his career.
But with Embiid gone, Denver Nuggets’ big man Nikola Jokic has surged to the top of the MVP oddsboards. Jokic is also having a career year with averages of 26.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 8.5 APG, and 1.6 SPG. The Nuggets have won eight out of their last 10 games, including Friday’s win against the Clippers so he’s got a solid claim to the Maurice Podoloff trophy.
Then there is the case of James Harden, who has been putting up ridiculous numbers in Brooklyn while leading the Nets to a red hot pace that has seen them move up to the top of the Eastern Conference. Then there are Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic. With these names popping out and Embiid missing three weeks, it’s difficult to say where Embiid stands in the MVP race right now. But the Sixers are playing for the championship, not individual accolades, so getting Embiid back is all that really matters.
Sixers’ Championship Odds
? UPDATED NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS? pic.twitter.com/R1YnZHa4pA
— theScore Bet (@theScoreBet) March 30, 2021
Despite Embiid having an MVP season and the Sixers going toe to toe with super team Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference team standings, they are just sixth in the current NBA championship odds boards with teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks having better odds than them despite Philly having better record.
The Sixers have looked like a different team under first year head coach Doc Rivers. Philly has been a perennial playoff team since the rise of Embiid and Simmons but they have not gotten past the second round of the playoffs and were swept in the first round last season. But this year, everyone seems to be playing one notch higher, especially Embiid.
There’s no question that the key to the Sixers’ success is Embiid and they need to get him healthy the rest of the way if they are to make a run at the title. Staying healthy has been the drawback of Joel Embiid’s career. The SIxers are just a mediocre 8-8 in the total 16 games he’s missed this year. But when he’s healthy, they have looked like a true title contender this season.