Joel Embiid drops wildly-efficient 52 points in last MVP push to lead 76ers past Celtics

Joel Embiid put up 52 points while shooting 20-of-25 from the field on Tuesday night. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Joel Embiid looks like he’s making one last push for MVP.

The Philadelphia 76ers star went off on Tuesday night to lead them to a 103-101 win over the Boston Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center. Embiid dropped a very, very efficient 52 points in the win while shooting 20-of-25 from the field.

Embiid hit the 50-point mark late in the fourth quarter after throwing down a relatively easy dunk, which put the 76ers up by six.

He then made a pair of free throws with less than 10 seconds left to get to 52.

The Celtics, who were right with Philadelphia for the entire contest, held the 76ers to just 19 points in the third quarter and had a good look to send the game to overtime.

Jayson Tatum caught an inbounds pass in the short corner with just two seconds left on the clock, but his fadeaway bucket was off the mark.

Derrick White led the Celtics with 26 points and seven rebounds in the loss. Tatum finished with 19 points, and Malcolm Brogdon added 18 off the bench.

James Harden added 20 points and 10 assists for Philadelphia while shooting 4-of-7 from behind the arc. P.J. Tucker finished with 11 points, and was the only other 76ers player to hit double figures.

Embiid is now the first center to record at least three 50-point games in a single season since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did so during the 1971-72 season, too. The only other 76ers player to record more was Wilt Chamberlain. Embiid is also the second player in NBA history to drop 50 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while shooting 80% or better from the field in a game. Chamberlain did so twice.

“The man just scored half our points in an NBA game,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said, via NBC Sports’ John Clark. “I’m baised, but the MVP race is over.”

Embiid is in a tight race with Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver Nuggets star, and reigning two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic for this year’s award. When trying to choose one of them this season, there’s really no wrong answer. All three have put up incredible, career seasons.

Embiid came into Tuesdays’ game averaging a league-best 33 points per game — which is 2.6 points higher than what he did last season to win the scoring title — while adding 10.2 rebounds and shooting a career-high 54% from the field.

The 76ers are still almost certainly too far back from the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings to jump into second before the season ends on Sunday.

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