The NBA MVP race is down to three players
Before this season's NBA trade deadline (Feb. 9th), playoff picture in both conferences was tight, as was the 2022-23 MVP race.
Single-digit games separated the 10 contenders in the West, while few games were the difference among the East’s top five teams.
Since then, some things have changed. Kevin Durant found his way to the Phoenix Suns, while Luka Doncic and newly-acquired Kyrie Irving haven't prevented the Dallas Mavericks from collapsing completely.
As the regular season enters the stretch, the MVP race looks like it's down to just three. There's a dead-heat (+115) between the two-time defending award winner Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, while another "two-timer," Giannis Antetokounmpo, is at +350. That's according to NBA MVP odds.
Embiid sat out this past Monday night's 116-111 loss at the Denver Nuggets (calf tightness) in what was a much-anticipated showdown with Nikola Jokic, who had a triple-double (25 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists) with his rival dressed in business casual.
However, Embiid has played at a higher level since the All-Star break, helping the Philadelphia Sixers take a firm hold on the third seed in the East.
As of this writing, he is leading the league in scoring (33.3 points per game), hitting 54.5% of his field goals and seventh in rebounding (10.2 rpg).
Embiid still has one game left with the Bucks and Antetokounmpo this Sunday.
Antetokounmpo missed Monday night's game on the road against the Detroit Pistons (sore right knee. Against the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee lost 129-106, the Greek Freak scoring 31 points (nine rebounds, four assists).
Antetokounmpo (at this writing) averages 31.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists, leading his Bucks to the best record (55-21) in the league. A slow start to the season notwithstanding, he's now an intimidating rim defender.
It was some guy named Larry Bird as the last player to win three straight MVPs (1984-86), so the Nuggets’ Jokic is in pretty fair company. As this was composed, Jokic averages 24.9 points, 11.9 assists and 9.9 rebounds per game, connecting on 63.4% of his shots.
Denver is currently leading the West at 51-24. including a league-best 32-6 at home. Having never won it all, Denver is sitting at 8-1 (+800) this season, as per NBA championship odds.
Jokic also joined Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only players to have 10 or more games in a season with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists Thus, nothing wrong in his quest to three-peat.