The hits keep coming for Joel Embiid.

The 76ers center reportedly lost the MVP race once again, with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic coming out victorious for a second straight season.

This came after Embiid shielded his team from the potential pitfalls of the Ben Simmons saga, put together the best season of his career, and became the rare center to win the scoring title. On top of that, he managed to muster the energy to play and win with a fractured eye socket, a torn thumb ligament, and the lingering effects from a concussion he suffered 10 days ago.

The Inquirer’s Marcus Hayes argued that Embiid will likely never win the award with Jokic and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo — another back-to-back MVP winner — standing in the way.

What is the only way the big man can find solace in this situation? By winning rings. Embiid is doing all he can to make that happen. The Sixers are 2-2 against the Miami Heat with a real chance to take out the No. 1 seed in the East because of his miraculous return. While Jokic watches from home, Embiid has a chance to shock the world.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

The Sixers have evened their series against the Miami Heat. Can they take control on Tuesday and win Game 5? sports.daily@inquirer.com

Extra Innings

It took some time, but J.P. Crawford turned out to be mostly what the Phillies thought he was: a stellar defensive shortstop with on-base skills and leadership qualities in the clubhouse. So why did they trade him four years ago? Scott Lauber takes a look back at how the Phillies, looking to make the leap to contender on the verge of spending big, decided they did not have the time to develop a young shortstop. Instead they shipped Crawford to Seattle for a steady veteran in Jean Segura. Crawford, who is batting .340 this season, has blossomed for the Mariners.

Phillies starters Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin remained on the COVID-19 restricted list on Monday. Manager Joe Girardi suggested that they might not be cleared to return until after the team’s series in Seattle ends on Wednesday.

Turns out, for the rest of the Phillies at Seattle, the game against the Mariners was an ideal antidote.

Next: The Phillies continue their series against the Mariners at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday (NBCSP). Aaron Nola (1-3, 3.38 ERA) will be opposed by Mariners left-hander Robbie Ray (2-3, 4.38).

Off the Dribble

The Sixers played a thrilling Game 4 against the Miami Heat, pulling out a 116-108 win to even the series at two games apiece. And with all that happening around him, David Kelleher still found a way to fall asleep — and be captured on television from his courtside seat.

And if Kelleher looked familiar, that’s because he is the owner of David Autos and appears during in-game commercials. His business, which is an official auto provider of the Sixers, runs commercials that feature him ringing the bell. He could’ve used a little alarm himself on Sunday night.

Next: The Sixers continue their effort to overtake the Miami Heat. They’ll play Game 5 in Miami on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. (TNT).

On the Fly

The Flyers didn’t have much luck in 2021-22, but could that change on Tuesday night?

The NHL draft lottery will take place, and the Flyers have the fourth-best odds (9.5%) to land the No. 1 overall pick. Olivia Reiner has everything you need to know about the draft lottery and takes a look at the Flyers’ history picking at the top of the draft.

Next: The Flyers will learn their draft fate on Tuesday night at 6:30 on ESPN.

Early Birds

The Eagles drafted tight end Grant Calcaterra in the sixth round with the No. 198 pick. A former player at Oklahoma and SMU, Calcaterra spent the first three seasons of his career with the Sooners and played alongside quarterback Jalen Hurts as a junior.

Inquirer beat writers Jeff McLane, Josh Tolentino, and EJ Smith weigh in on the selection.

Fleet Street

Do Union fans ever look at Paxten Aaronson and experience déjà vu? After all, it wasn’t that long ago that his older brother, Brenden, was in a Union uniform, pulling off nifty moves in midfield before eventually signing abroad in Europe. He’s now at Red Bull Salzburg, part of an American continental contingent that often gets highlighted in Jonathan Tannenwald’s Soccer on TV feature.

Paxten, however, is making his debut for the Union this season in U.S. Open Cup action, along with a host of other backup Union players, many of them young talent. Manager Jim Curtin has had to shake up his usual game plan of a set roster for an upcoming stretch of several games in short order.

Next: The Union visit Orlando City SC for a U.S. Open Cup game at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Streaming on ESPN+).

Worth a Look

Trivia Tuesday

Which Phillies pitcher threw a no-hitter and hit two home runs in the same game?

A) Jim Bunning

B) Rick Wise

C) Steve Carlton

D) Cliff Lee

Email your answer to: @phillysport

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Marcus Hayes, Gina Mizell, Jonathan Tannenwald, Keith Pompey, Scott Lauber, Alex Coffey, Jeff McLane, EJ Smith, Josh Tolentino, Olivia Reiner, and Matt Mullin.