I hear all the time that he nba MVP is a regular season award. Which is strange, because when so many people ran out of ways to decrease by Nikola Jokic the so-called nerd number mastery as a way of raising by Joel Embiid case, the discussion turned into… the postseason.

It was always there. This idea that Jokic is somehow not the same dominant force in the postseason. He has never met even the basic standard of a logical argument. Go watch Jokic’s postseason performances. And on top of that, is Embiid some kind of playoff monster? After Embiid’s Sixers were left off the field for him celts in Game 7 on Sunday, Philly has now been bounced out of the second round for the third year in a row, and in increasingly embarrassing fashion, I might add.

Jokic, for the record, has now been to two conference finals. Embid, zero. we blame Ben Simmons in 2021. Last year james harden it was not healthy. This year, I’m sure Embiid’s defenders are going to protest he it was not healthy. Which it wasn’t. But that is not the point. This is a pattern now. Embiid doesn’t find the moments in front of him consistently. He went 7-for-24 in Philadelphia’s elimination game last year. He was 5-for-18 for 15 points on Sunday.

On the defensive end, which is supposed to be the crux of his case as an MVP than Jokic, he provided basically zero protection at the rim and had no opportunity to score on the perimeter. He was slow with no elevator. He was lethargic. Embiid always looks pretty lethargic, to be fair. But on Sunday, he was really on a leisurely walk. In a Game 7.

Now I want to be clear, this is not an attack on Embiid as a great player, which he obviously is. I’m just here to point out what is absolutely obvious to anyone actually looking, and has actually observed, these two guys play: Embiid is not in Jokic’s class. He just isn’t. There’s no blanket number to suggest he is, and for people who hate metrics, the eyesight test got pretty blinding.

When Embiid is doing very well, it’s easy to mistake him for Jokic’s equal, if not his superior, just as it’s easy to put him Damian Lillard in by stephen curry class when you are cooking. I myself have made the mistake. And I looked silly when I did it.

I won’t be fooled again. Embiid, like Lillard, is a Hall of Fame player and a worthy MVP candidate. He’s just not the MVP. He is not the Curry in this conversation. That’s Jokic. The guy whose on-and-off splits should have told the MVP story for the third year in a row.

It bears repeating: The pips they were 25 worse points per 100 possessions when Jokic sat out this season. That’s a statistical way of saying they played like the best team in the league with him and pretty much the worst team in the league without him. About a large sample size, that’s what it is.

But I’m not even going to do this about advanced numbers. The Nuggets are minus-2.2 per 100 in these playoffs with Jokic on the floor, according to the Glass Cleanup. It doesn’t matter. It’s a small sample. The man averaged 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.3 assists on 59/44/85 shooting splits to eliminate the Suns. He was undoubtedly the best player in a series that included Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.

You see, what the numbers reflect but you don’t need to understand if you watch the games is this: Jokic is a guaranteed quality shot. For him. Or for a teammate. The Nuggets run their offense through him and he can’t defend himself. Can’t. If you cover just Jokic, whether it’s in the regular season or the playoffs, he’s going to rip you apart in the post or with his feathery touch. Cover him twice, and he opens you wide with his stride.

That defensive quandary isn’t one Embiid can replicate. You can double team him, and he will No Separate You He’s a reliable mid-range shooter, but he spends too much time on the perimeter. On Sunday, he posted too far from the hoop. He sometimes catches the ball just inside the 3-point line. When he has to go back that far, he’s susceptible to losing the ball and/or balance, or both, if he doesn’t look up and settle for a jumper.

While there’s absolutely no way any defense is going to hold Jokic, who just has too many ways to kill you, to 15 points on 18 shots with an assist in an elimination game, or really any game, Embiid, as his teammate equipment. James Harden is too reliant on fouling to maintain consistent dominance in midcourt when the going gets really tough.

In the playoffs, it’s all about which teams get the best, easiest, most rhythmic shots against established defenses. Jokic guarantees you those shots. Embiid does not. The game, relative to what it looks like with Jokic, looks like a fight through Embiid.

This has been a problem for the Sixers since the Brett Brown era. They just can’t create consistent good shots in midcourt. You saw it all day Sunday: nothing was happening, Embiid was backing up or looking up, the shot clock apparently stuck at six seconds and ticking while someone tried to create something out of nothing.

Brown, they said, was not creative enough and they fired him. Simmons can’t space the floor, and they ran him. Doc Rivers has long been maligned, I think deservedly, as an unimaginative and frankly outplayed coach in the playoffs, and he too may have been gone before long. Harden could have ended up in Philly, and don’t even try to get me started on his unreliability as a shooter when he can’t consistently live on the whistle.

Embiid is the only mainstay of the Philadelphia franchise who is guaranteed for next season, and at some point, you have to wonder who the common denominator is in all these postseason shortcomings. And having said that, then it stands to reason that the postseason narrative, which isn’t supposed to mean anything but we all know it really does, doesn’t hold up when it comes to this Jokic vs. Embiid debate.

The simple truth is that Jokic lost this award due to voter fatigue. And to the narrative of a great player in Embiid who has waited for his turn. Jokic was better in the regular season. Jokic has been better in the postseason. Jokic is the most valuable player in the league, regardless of who won the trophy this year. I don’t know who needs to hear that. But I just wanted to say it.


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