How the Rockets helped determine the MVP race

Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets
Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages

The 2022-23 MVP race has been a bloodbath all season, as Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic have been going head-to-head for the award essentially all season. Both have dazzled with stunning performances and MVP moments and have carved out their own narrative for the award.

As if this wasn't already difficult enough for the voters, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has also climbed back in the race, which should come as no surprise, as he's won the award and also has a narrative of his own, considering the amount of time he's been without co-star Khris Middleton this season.

But although the award has come down to the wire this season, the Houston Rockets helped to seal the deal on Tuesday night, during their duel against the Denver Nuggets, who sit atop the Western Conference. Heading into the game, there were questions regarding whether Jokic would play, as the Nuggets already have the top spot in the West locked up and they essentially had nothing to gain by playing Jokic, with the postseason around the corner.

And especially not against the Rockets, who are a lottery team. However, the Nuggets decided to play Jokic regardless, in addition to Jamal Murray. The decision was a fatal one for Jokic's MVP hopes, as the Rockets walked away with the victory, blasting Jokic and the Nuggets to the tune of a 124-103 blowout.

How the Houston Rockets have helped seal the MVP race

Jokic, who holds season-long averages of 24.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 9.8 assists, walked away with just 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. As if that wasn't lowly enough for an MVP candidate, it just so happened on the night that Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid dropped 52 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists, in front of a national audience.

There should be no questions regarding who the award should go to, not just because of Embiid's dominance against the Boston Celtics, but also because of Jokic's measly performance against a Rockets team that had just surrendered 40 points to Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis in the previous game.

So if the award goes to Embiid (better yet when the award goes to Embiid), Jokic can blame the Houston Rockets. Or he can blame himself for coming up short against a team that's leading the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.