With each passing day, we get that much closer to crowning an NBA champion. With the second-round series drawing to a conclusion, the true contenders are starting to separate themselves.
With so much news, both on and off the court, surrounding the NBA, let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories of the week.
Jokic Wins Second Straight MVP
In a bit of a landslide, Nikola Jokic repeated as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row. With 875 total points, Jokic topped both the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Nuggets’ big man had a phenomenal season again for Denver. In 74 games, he averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He also shot 58.3% from the field, 33.7% from three, and 81% from the free-throw line.
In total, Jokic received 65 first-place votes for the award. That far surpassed both Embiid (26 first-place votes) and Antetokounmpo (nine first-place votes).
As the sixth seed, the Nuggets were bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the Golden State Warriors, but that still doesn’t negate the amazing season Jokic had.
76ers Have Rough Night, Get Bounced From Playoffs
This is certainly not the postseason that 76ers’ fans envisioned after a regular season where the team finished 51-31, fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The team was already behind the eight ball as star Joel Embiid was playing through both a finger injury and a facial fracture. Game 6 was an absolute nightmare, though.
Eventually losing the elimination game 99-90 to the Miami Heat, nothing seemed to go right for the 76ers despite playing on their home floor. In fact, things got so bad that the Philly faithful were booing when it was all said and done.
One of the most notable issues was the play of James Harden. When Philadelphia traded for Harden at the trade deadline, they thought they were bringing in another superstar to help support Embiid. Unfortunately, he didn’t play that way.
In the elimination game, Harden had just 11 points, including no points in the second half. He also added four rebounds and nine assists, but it wasn’t enough for a team that was desperately looking for shooting.
In the loss, Embiid and Tyrese Maxes had 20 points apiece, but Harden was just a non-factor.
After the game, Harden said, “I’ll be here” when asked about opting out of his final year of his contract. The real question is whether Philadelphia wants him back.
Aside from the poor play of Harden, the 76ers also took a major blow when guard Danny Green injured his knee in the first quarter and missed the rest of the game. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, he will have an MRI on it, with some beliefs that the knee injury could be significant.
LaVine To Have Knee Surgery
While Green injured his knee Thursday night, Chicago Bulls superstar Zach LaVine played through a knee injury much of the season. On Thursday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that he would be undergoing surgery on his left knee to rectify the injury in the coming weeks.
Despite playing on only one good knee, LaVine played really well this season. In 67 games, the 27-year-old averaged 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game.
His play, alongside that of DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, helped the Bulls reach the postseason for the first time in five seasons.
Unfortunately, they could not get by the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.
LaVine is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and while many anticipate he will return to the Bulls, he has made comments that he will weigh all options through the process.