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Week in Review: Statement made

Joel Embiid made his case to be the frontrunner for the league's MVP award.

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers have lost four games since December 9th, with a league-best 20-4 record and the best offense in the league over that span.

Fueling that run is, no surprise, Joel Embiid, who is casually dropping 35.3 points, while shooting 54.8% from the field, during that run. The big performances have been frequent, and they've been spectacular, with a 53-point performance against the Hornets, and 40+ point showings against the Clippers (twice), Wizards, Pelicans, and, most recently, the Nuggets.

All of this has come as the Sixers have climbed to the second seed in the Eastern Conference, and the 3rd best record in all the NBA.

The one nitpick analysts would have is that the Sixers have played an easy schedule over this run, and it's tough to dispute that argument. Per ESPN, the Sixers have played the third easiest schedule to date, and Tankathon estimates that the Sixers have the second-toughest schedule left to play, although when you factor in how jam-packed the March schedule is it's probably even tougher than that.

Prior to this past week, it was tough to look at this run the Sixers are on and pick out a signature victory, with the winning more workmanlike than it is message-sending. Winning consistently over the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Detroit Pistons is great, and necessary for claiming a top seed in the conference, but it's unlikely to really capture the imagination of a national audience that is skeptical of the team's postseason chances.

But that all ended last week, when the Sixers took down the Brooklyn Nets (30-19) and Denver Nuggets (34-16) at the Wells Fargo Center, the latter of which punctuated by a step-back 3 from Joel Embiid to secure the come from behind win, as the Sixers erased a 15-point, late third quarter deficit to take down the team with the best record in the West.

Embiid had 12 points and two blocks during the fourth quarter against the Nuggets. None were bigger than that final three over the outstretched arms of the two-time reigning MVP, who Embiid dominated for most of the night. It was about as close to a signature moment, in a game that was as close to a statement game, as you can get in the middle of January.

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