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Kia MVP Ladder: Jayson Tatum, Joel Embiid continue to soar

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Season-long woes in Dallas’ defense could have taken a toll on Luka Doncic’s once-solid Kia MVP case.

Speaking specifically about his team’s leaky defense, Dallas coach Jason Kidd may have inadvertently predicted that Luka Doncic’s prospects of winning Kia MVP seem to be waning.

Like Doncic, the Mavericks can score.

Like Doncic, the club also struggles to stop opponents from getting the ball into the basket.

in Dallas 130-122 lost Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks provided the latest evidence, as the Mavericks lost their third straight game, allowing an average of 135.3 points in each setback heading into Friday’s win over the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Center (7:30 ET ESPN).

Asked how to stop the bleeding, Kidd cut deep into his team.

“In the case of this person, we have to keep asking them to defend themselves,” he said. “It’s not just the offensive end. I gave up 130 again tonight. [points]The team had a shot completion rate of 57%. It’s a shootout. In this league [if] Whether it’s Luka or Kareem, you do it [Abdul-Jabbar] or lebron [James]you’re going to lose

“No matter how many points we score, we are always short. I don’t think so.”

Interestingly, this situation almost mirrors Doncic trying to win his first MVP. The 23-year-old spits out flashy numbers consistently on offense. But this week, Doncic owns the worst ERA (115.3) of all the top-5 ranked players on the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder.

No one expects the three-time All-Star to put on a Lockdown show every night, but if his current ERA holds up, it would be the worst of his career for a team leader at the time. I guess. 7th place last season Despite its defensive rating (109.1), 25th place in that category (115.0) 2022-23.

“I’ve scored 130 in almost every game I’ve played in the last few games,” Doncic said. “I think he’s fine offensively. We have to focus on defense as well as offense.”

After losing six of their past eight games, the Mavericks have 7 of their last 10 games, including Wednesday’s 124-98 road victory over a New Orleans team that lost CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson on Friday. Play against the winning Miami team.

A colleague, John Schuman, in Miami The improvement bench did its part with the recent surge. Meanwhile, the Mavericks welcomed two of their best perimeter defenders Wednesday in Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Greene, which should help against the Heat. It was also announced that Wood (broken left thumb) would be on board. at least 1 week.

Dwight Powell and JaVale McGee will be the only healthy big guys on the roster as Maxi Clever has been in rehab since December. right hamstring surgery.

For this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder, Doncic dropped two places to fourth in the Western Conference standings, with seven teams trailing Dallas by 1 1/2 games.

Jayson Tatum jumps to No. 2 following Thursday’s overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors, while Joel Embiid leads Philadelphia to No. 4 in his current five-game roadie win in the West. After that, he moved up to 3rd place.

And now, here are the top five MVP ladders for the 2022-23 Kia Race:


1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Last week’s ranking: First place

Season stats: 25.1ppg, 11.0rpg, 9.9apg

count it. Currently, Nikolajokic’s career triple-double is his 90th. 14th place this season A day after dropping a 36-point triple-double against Portland, in Wednesday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (not to mention fifth in six games). Russell Westbrook is the last player (in 2021) to complete his five triple-doubles in six games, and the Nuggets are a perfect 14-0 when Jokic reaches that stat line.of All-time assist leader In Nuggets franchise history, Jokic dropped 37 dimes in the final three games as Denver won eight straight games, including a 15-game winning streak at home. Jokic has never been below his 60% off the floor in his last five appearances. Impressive.

Why Nikola Jokic keeps dodging Jason Tatum and Joel Embiid on the ladder.


2. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Last week’s ranking: No. 3

Season stats: 31.2ppg, 8.5rpg, 4.3apg

he dropped Scored 34 points with a career-high 19 rebounds Boston’s overtime win over Golden State helped the Celtics to an eight-game winning streak. Things changed at night. “We lost the championship. No one can get it back,” Tatum said of the Celtics’ mindset going into the game. It’s a game against a great team with great players and great coaches, but it was just one game.”

Jayson Tatum had 34 points and 19 rebounds for the Warriors in a 121-118 overtime victory.


3. Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid

Last week’s ranking: No. 5

Season stats: 33.6ppg, 9.8rpg, 4.2apg

A steady rise continues. Embiid said he missed three straight games from January 4 to January 8, after which he returned averaging 34.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 1.8 bpg over six games. . The Sixers are now on his fourth straight win in his five-game West Road trip and have won eight of his 10 games in the first January to advance to his tie for second place with the Bucks in the East. Did. Philadelphia manager Doc Rivers said, “I think we’re doing well and I think we can get really good. A lot of that depends on Embiid’s continued production on both ends of the floor. big man and james harden It seems to be taking their step.

Joel Embiid had 32 points and 9 rebounds in the win against Portland.


4. Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks

Last week’s ranking: No. 2

Season stats: 33.7ppg, 8.8rpg, 8.8apg

The problem is not the grade, and also no shooting, given that the Mavs have shot 50% or more from the field in three of their last four games. Doncic leads his NBA with his 30 points in 31 games this season, also a career high. But the 23-year-old, and the rest of the team, will need to improve defense significantly for Dallas to return to winning ways, and that will only improve Doncic’s MVP prospects. The squad is not without ability, as evidenced by Doncic’s entry into the Western final last season as an active defensive participant. Every other player in the top five on this list has his defensive rating of 111.3. since christmasDallas has the second-lowest ERA (121.9) in the NBA.


5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Last week’s ranking: No. 4

Season stats: 31.0ppg, 11.9rpg, 5.3apg

Antetokounmpo not playing After January 11thscored a season-low seven points in a win in Atlanta, and had 18 rebounds and 10 assists. knee painBut the Bucks aren’t worried about the future availability of the two-time MVP because he’s expected to be back soon, according to manager Mike Budenholzer. Always our priority,” said Budenholzer. “We’ll probably always be careful because we know how important he is to us.” He is set to produce the third-most scoring season in history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 10 assists and 18 rebounds in his final game.


The Next Five

Michael C. Wright explains why Jamorant didn’t make the top five on the Kia MVP ladder and why it shouldn’t be considered a ‘snub’.

6. Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies (Last week’s ranking: 7th)
7. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (Last week’s ranking: 6th)
8. Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers (Last week’s ranking: 8th)
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Last week’s ranking: 10th)
Ten. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics (Last week’s ranking: 9th)

Five more (in alphabetical order): Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers. Lori Markkanen, Utah Jazz. Julius Randle, New York Knicks.Domantas Sabonis of the Sacramento Kings

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Michael C. Wright is a Senior Writer for NBA.com.you can email him herefind his archive here and follow him twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery Sports.

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