'Unguardable' Embiid yet again 'the best player on the floor' as 76ers keep rolling
Joel Embiid was the dominant force in the Philadelphia 76ers' 117-94 road win in Minnesota on Tuesday, declaring afterwards "I feel like I'm unguardable".
The seven-foot Cameroonian behemoth was at the peak of his powers against Rudy Gobert, racking up 39 points on 13-of-22 shooting in just 28 minutes. He also added 14 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Making the feat even more impressive was the fact that it came on the second night of a back-to-back, just 24 hours after piling 42 points (11-of-16 shooting) on defensive ace Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers.
Following consecutive seasons where he finished runner-up in MVP voting to Nikola Jokic, the 28-year-old has taken his game up another level this time around, sporting career-highs in points (33.2), field goal percentage (53.5) and steals (1.1).
He trails only Luka Doncic (33.4 points per game) in the race for the scoring title, while also leading the league in made free throws per game (10.2).
Speaking to ESPN immediately after improving the 76ers' record to 43-22, Embiid said he feels it will be the same outcome no matter who is guarding him, even three-time Defensive Player of the Year Gobert.
"I take pride every single time I step on the floor, no matter who's guarding, I feel like I'm unguardable," he said. "I want to show them that it’s not that easy to guard me.
"[The Gobert matchup] doesn't necessarily motivate me, but it's the same thing with every big in the league, it doesn't matter who I'm playing, it just feels like I'm going to do my thing regardless. I'm going to dominate.
"It's no disrespect to any of them, but MVPs, Defensive Player of the Year, that doesn't mean anything to me. I'm still going to be the best player on the floor."
While he said he has bigger things to worry about, Embiid admitted it would be special to receive what he feels is the pinnacle of individual awards when asked who he feels is the MVP favourite.
"I don't know, that's not for me to answer," he said. "I feel like, you know, obviously being in the running the last few years has been 'whatever', and this year I've taken a different approach.
"I'm just trying to focus on the right things, win games, dominate – which I've been doing – and whatever happens, happens.
"Obviously it would mean a lot to win one, that's the best award anyone can get, but like I said I'm just focused on making sure I, first of all stay healthy, win games, and dominate.
"But I'm excited about the playoffs, that's where I feel like – I feel good. I feel good about myself and my team, so I just want to make sure that all of us get there healthy, and we do what we gotta do."
After putting together a 31-10 record since December 9, the 76ers are now just 1.5 games behind the Boston Celtics (45-21) in the race for the Eastern Conference's two seed, with the Milwaukee Bucks (47-18) pulling away out in front.