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Joel Embiid makes MVP case dropping 52, 76ers hold off Celtics

Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson debate what "most valuable" really means in the NBA, as Helin describes why he's struggling to decide on his Most Valuable Player along with Defensive Player of the Year.

Doc Rivers wasn’t subtle:

Doc Rivers can lean toward hyperbole at times, but this is the kind of effort by Joel Embiid in a nationally televised game against an elite defense that gets noticed. Embiid scored 18 points in the first quarter and finished with 52 points on 20-of-25 shooting plus grabbing 13 rebounds, sparking the 76ers to a 103-101 win.

The 76ers victory, combined with the Bucks beating the Wizards 140-128 on Tuesday, almost assures that Boston will finish as the No.2 seed (the Bucks are three games up on the Celtics with three to play). Philadephia appears headed for the No.3 seed — it lines the Celtics and 76ers up for a potential second-round series.

Boston was without Jaylen Brown or Robert Williams III (the first night of a back-to-back so key players got the night off), but got strong guard play courtesy of Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon, who combined for 61 points. White finished with 26 points and had another strong defensive game (he may make an All-Defensive Team with his play this season).

James Harden finished with 20 points and 10 assists, while P.J. Tucker reminded everyone while Philadelphia bright him in — he played strong defense and hit key corner 3s to help fuel the 76ers in the fourth, when Boston made its push.

However, Embiid didn’t get that much help — the rest of the Sixers shot 35.9% on the night. Fortunately for Philly, Boston had no answer for the MVP candidate big man. Boston has a few more weeks to find an answer for Embiid before possibly taking him on in playoff games.