PHILADELPHIA — Prior to the Sixers’ Game 2 win over the Hawks, the MVP race was officially decided with Nikola Jokic earning the honors and Joel Embiid seemed to notice. Philadelphia’s big man dominated in the team’s 118-102 win, scoring a playoff career-high 40 points, and questions about the MVP race seemed to dominate the postgame press conference.

“It’s disappointing because as a player, you work hard for moments like this,” Embiid told FortyEightMinutes and other media in Philadelphia about not winning the award. “But then again, it’s out of my control. There’s nothing I can do about it. You just got to come out every year and just be ready and do my job.

“But I’m focused on the playoffs, I’m focused on winning the championship. Like I’ve been saying all season, we got a good chance. So I’m not worried about those awards and stuff. If and when I’m holding that [Larry O’Brien] Trophy, anything else won’t matter.”

Embiid officially finished second overall in the MVP voting, though he received just one first-place vote.

Coach Doc Rivers told the media pregame that he thought Embiid’s missed time was the “deciding factor” in the MVP results. While Rivers would have liked to see his center land the award, he enjoyed Embiid’s motivated night and compared it to a special Rockets-Spurs playoff game back in 1995.

“It was awesome,” Rivers said. “I remember being on the other side of the night that David Robinson got the MVP and we had to play [Hakeem] Olajuwon. I was on that Spur team.”

Olajuwon went for 41 points and 16 rebounds in Houston’s Game 2 win over San Antonio in the 1995 Western Conference Finals. The Rockets went on to win the championship that season, a path the Sixers hope to emulate this season.

This article first appeared on FortyEightMinutes and was syndicated with permission.

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