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NBA

The race for the NBA MVP: Embiid holding strong while Morant leads Memphis

Nikola Jokic continues his bid for back-to-back MVP seasons while Joel Embiid is making is case stronger every day. Less than a month remains in the season.

Update:
Nikola Jokic continues his bid for back-to-back MVP seasons while Joel Embiid is making is case stronger every day. Less than a month remains in the season.
Bill StreicherUSA TODAY Sports

There is less than a month to go in the NBA season and the MVP race is currently a toss up. Each of the contenders are building strong cases for their bid as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Will It be Philly’s big man Joel Embiid? Will Steph Curry or Giannis Antetokounmpo be named MVP for the third time? Will Nikola Jokic go back-to-back? Or will it be the young buck Ja Morant is Memphis?

Every Tuesday we will be giving weekly updates on the MVP race leading all the way up to the award ceremony. This is last week’s look at the race, and here’s what the favorites for the to life the Maurice Podoloff trophy did over the last week.

Joel Embiid

Embiid and James Harden are looking like the most dominant inside-outside threat in the game since the February blockbuster deal that brought “The Beard” to the City of Brotherly Love.

While it was a dream start to the partnership in Philly, they honeymoon came to an abrupt end in the NBA’s game of the regular season against the Brooklyn Nets. Embiid put up 27 points and 12 rebounds, but sat the fourth quarter as the game was already in the books in the Brooklyn blowout.

He bounced back in spectacular fashion with 35 points and 16 rebounds coming just three assists away from a triple double against the Magic in the Sixers OT win in Orlando.

Philly lost a tough game in Denver as two of the top contenders for MVP went head-to-head. Embiid had 34, 9 and 4 assists, but Jokic had the last laugh as the Nuggets dealt the Sixers their second loss in their last three games.

Season stats: 29.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists.

Nikola Jokic

It was a busy week for Jokic and the Nuggets who won just two of their four games since Tuesday. Strangely enough, the Nuggets dropped both of their games in Denver, but won two away from home.

Jokic started off with a colossal game against the Kings in Sacramento, going for 38,18 and 7 assists in the narrow win which secured the Nugs 10th win in 11 games.

On their return to Denver the Nuggets slipped a bit, losing to Golden State first and then to Toronto. Jokic was an assist away from a triple-double with 23,12 and 9 assists in the six point loss against the Warriors. In their second of back-to-back losses Jokic went for 26, 10 and 7 assists as the Nuggets fell to the Raptors 115-127.

In the battle of the big men, Embiid may have put up bigger numbers but Jokic and the Nuggets wrapped up the win on the road while Jokic posted 22, 13 and 8 assists one of which was the best pass we’ve seen in the NBA all season.

Season stats: 26 points, 13.8 rebounds and 8.1 assists.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Bucks continued their charge up the Eastern Conference standings with three wins in four game over the last week. They live and die by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s performances

The Bucks stomped the sturggling Thunder last Tuesday in Oklahoma City, with Giannis flirting with 40 points. He had 39, 7 and 7 assists in the blowout victory.

The Greek Freak broke the 40 point barrier in the rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, netting 43, 12 and 5 as the Bucks beat the Hawks in Milwaukee.

Giannis and company then traveled West to take on another two time MVP, Steph Curry, in California. While Antetkounmpo had 31 against one of the top teams in the West the Bucks fell to the Warriors after Klay Thompson exploded for 38 points.

Last night the Bucks got back to their winning ways with a six point win over the Utah Jazz. The Greek went for 30 and 15 rebounds in the win as the now sit in second in the East, just two games back on the Miami Heat.

Season stats: 29.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists

Steph Curry

It’s no secret that the Warriors had hit a bit of a rough patch, but the skies are starting to clear in Golden State and while Steph Curry will alway be a big part of why his team is winning, it’s been the role players that have stepped up in recent games.

The Warriors are in the midst of a four game win streak which started last Tuesday against a streaking Clippers side. Curry had just 15 points in the comfortable win over the Clippers at the Chase Center.

Curry bounced back from his sub par game with 34 points and nine rebounds in the win over Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, but took a back seat to Klay Thompson in the home match up against the Bucks.

Thompson looked the best he has since coming back from injury, and Steph will be more than happy to take a back seat from time to time if it means the Thompson is back to his best, especially if the Warriors are winning. Curry scored just eight points in win over the Bucks.

If there was anyone foolishly questioning Curry because two of his last three games have been a bit atypical in terms of scoring Steph silenced them with 47 points in the 126-112 win over the Washington Wizards.

Season stats: 25.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

Ja Morant

The Grizzlies bounced back in a big way after a disappointing lost to the Houston Rockets with three straight wins. Ja Morant has been the catalyst for Memphis all season long and continued to do so over the last week.

In other NBA news

He led the Griz over New Orleans with 24, 8 and 8 assists, and had some of his side kicks like Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane step up to get Memphis back to their winning ways.

Morant went wild in the following game when he put up 37 points and eight assists in his best game since putting up 52 against the Spurs.

Ja took a back seat to Desmond Bane in the win against Oklahoma City. Bane scored 21 and Morant followed up with 17 and 10 assists to stay second in the Western Conference.

Season stats: 27.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists.

Honorable mentions: Luka Doncic and DeMar DeRozan

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