Joel Embiid

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VIDEO: Latest on Joel Embiid's status for Game 5

Dave Uram
April 22, 2019 - 3:15 pm

Of course, a key element to the 76ers going deep in the playoffs is the health of center Joel Embiid, who looked very mobile prior to Monday’s practice, two days after playing 32 minutes in Game 4. 

When asked if he’s going to be a game-time decision in Game 5 against the Brooklyn Nets again because of his left knee, the big guy said as he tried to hold back a smile, “Gotta keep ‘em guessing.” 

I’m guessing Embiid will play. With all due respect to one of the most entertaining players in the NBA, Embiid’s Hulu commercials are better acting. 

Team Chemistry Seems Just Fine

As the postseason goes on and the 76ers keep succeeding, all of those rumors you heard and read during this season seem less believable. Regardless of what’s been reported about the 76ers, when the lights come on and the cameras are rolling, this is a unit that’s on the same page with one goal in mind—an NBA Championship. Win or lose, the finished product isn’t always pretty. But, this highly entertaining and grueling first round playoff series against the Nets speaks for itself. The Sixers are building a tremendous culture with this team they assembled through two in-season blockbuster trades. 

“We have each other’s backs,” Ben Simmons said before Monday’s practice, “no matter who we’re playing.” 

When Net veteran Jared Dudley escalated Game 4’s mini-scuffle, Jimmy Butler immediately came to Joel Embiid’s defense. It resulted in a $15,000 dollar fine that Embiid will happily pay. Butler and Embiid have only been teammates since mid-November. 

“When we understand each other, it goes a long way, especially on the court,” Embiid said. “Jimmy and I, we’ve gotten really close, so it doesn’t surprise me that he had my bad, and he would do that for anybody on the team.” 

“Moments like that do help (our evolution), and I think that brings us closer,” Simmons said.

It’s why no matter how far this team goes, and it at least appears—barring a historic collapse—they’ll be playing into the second round, the brain trust in the Sixers front office should do whatever they can to retain Butler and Tobias Harris, both of whom are stepping up big in this series with Philadelphia leading 3-1. And if possible, JJ Redick should be retained as well. This starting five has barely had a chance to play together, and since this postseason started, they pulled off a 51-point quarter and rallied with an 18-7 run to close a game on the road against a team they match up poorly against defensively. 

Butler wasn’t scheduled to speak after the Sixers Game 4 victory, but he did alongside Embiid at the press conference podium. Chemistry was displayed in their brief back-and-forth dialogue, as well as their laughter. It’s not the first time Butler has shown that at the mic. It’s happened with the likes of Redick, Amir Johnson and even former Sixer Landry Shamet following what was, at the time, a career night for the rookie in December against the Knicks at Wells Fargo Center.

Now it’s true, winning leads to the smiles, laughs and playful banter you’re seeing. But that camaraderie also contributes to the victories. The further the Sixers go, the more this bond will build and that’s ever more than reason to keep this starting five around long term. 

So, you can believe all the reports you want. The Sixers chemistry speaks for itself, and right now, it’s on the doorstep of advancing to the second round. 

JoJo’s Potential Bulletin Board Material 

Let’s be completely honest—the Nets can’t stop Embiid, even when he’s not 100 percent. So, if there’s any concern that his declaration to TMZ Sports about the series being over (Vince Carter Slam Dunk circa 2000 style), I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. 

While the Sixers struggle bottling up Brooklyn’s talented guard trio of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell, it’s evident they want to end this thing. 

“Gotta keep ‘em guessing,” Embiid said about his status again with a smile, “but if I do play, I’m going to be aggressive. We got to close it out (Tuesday) night. We don’t want to go back to Brooklyn, so I gotta do whatever that’s necessary to close it out (Tuesday).” 

“As best you can, you want to take the oxygen out of a series,” head coach Brett Brown said. “It’s done, in my mind, through defense first. There’s no secret how this game (Tuesday) will be played given the complaints that have surfaced in regards to refereeing and what inevitably will be sort of the reaction to the game. I want to get ahead of that as the coach—anticipate different things like that, share stories with my team so we can just stay very linear, very like straight line, just play through noise.” 

Embiid’s Vince Carter-like “it’s over” motion might be bulletin board material for Brooklyn, but it’s not like it will make Jarrett Allen stronger with the ball or give Joe Harris a better chance at making a three-point shot. Maybe it will incite more nagging elbows and such from Dudley, but if anything—his Game 4 antics sparked the 76ers rally. 

Embiid is owning the Nets. Unlike Dudley, he’s backing up his chit chat—verbal or not—with remarkable numbers on a sore left knee.

Enough Said.

The Last Two Minute Report Is Pointless 

I never liked the Last Two Minute Report. 

What does it fix? Are the referees punished? Is this how they’re graded to determine postseason assignments, and if so—why are they still be graded in the playoffs?  

Maybe there are answers to these questions, and if there are, please inform me on Twitter @MrUram. 

My point is—if your team loses and then you find out they got robbed, do you feel better? If your team wins, but did so by poor officiating, what’s your reaction then? Is the win as satisfying. Probably, but maybe slightly less. 

Game 4’s Last 2 Minute Report said Harris wrapped his arm around Allen in the closing seconds with the Sixers up two, restricting his freedom of motion to roll to the basket, thus two foul shots should've been rewarded with a chance to tie the game.

Here's video of the play. 

First of all, I disagree that Harris fouled Allen on the pick, even though the league said he did. Allen bobbled the ball while dribbling well after Harris made minimal contact with Allen attempting to cut/roll to the hoop. His “freedom of motion” was briefly and I mean briefly, restricted. It's not why he turned the ball over to Simmons. He turned the ball because he lost it trying to dribble. 

“I mean, game’s over,” Harris said. “And who’s to say he made both free throws anyway? I mean I understand the league report came out and what not, but it is what it is. There was also something on Spencer Dinwiddie and a carry or what not. So, it is what it is. Game is finished. We got the win. I ain’t going to say I should not have done it whatever. I was hustling. Clearly they said it was a foul, so it is what it is. I mean, I don’t feel sorry. It is what it is.”

So, stop with this nonsense of the last two minute report. I'm all for being 100 percent transparent with the fans, but in my humble opinion, it’s unfulfilling for both fan bases unless a controversial call/non-call is proven to be correct for the winning team. What changed in this instance from Saturday afternoon? Nothing. ​