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Joel Embiid's goal? Frustrate defenders, 'live at the foul line'

Joel Embiid is eyeing a new home. It is a private residence with only six neighbors nearby and an unobstructed view of the basket. He already has spent a lot of time in the area and feels quite comfortable there.  

"I'm going to live at the foul line," Embiid said. 

Embiid attempted 18 free throws in 14:45 during his preseason debut against the Nets on Wednesday. He took 16 attempts in the first half alone, when he logged just 11:28. Embiid finished the night shooting 77.8 percent (14 for 18) from the line.

"I know guys are going to get mad and they're going to try to be physical with me, just initiating with committing a foul," Embiid said after the Sixers' win. "I know guys get frustrated. I know sometimes I'm in the same situation and I just want to like push the other guy back and I felt like that's what they did a lot."

Playing in his first game since left knee surgery in March, Embiid drew a lot of contact early. He made his first four trips to the line in a span of two minutes and 30 seconds to close out the first quarter. Embiid scored more than half of his 22 points off free throws.

Brett Brown noticed Embiid using a combination of size, strength and basketball savvy to get the calls. Embiid estimates he weighs between 280 and 285 pounds.

"I think he's very clever on drawing fouls and going through people's arms if they aren't disciplined, really showing refs their hands. Anything that's out, he baits and he really exposes the foul," Brown said. "He's so physical that the collision I think exposes fouls. It's not always from a post-up. I'll be curious, but my gut says that a lot of the fouls drawn were in a face-up where he just drove through people instead of backed people down. All those things give him an opportunity to make a ref call a foul."

Last season, Embiid ranked eighth in the NBA with 7.9 free throw attempts per game. James Harden led the league with 10.9 attempts followed by Russell Westbrook (10.4), DeMarcus Cousins (9.3), Jimmy Butler (8.9), DeMar DeRozan (8.7), Anthony Davis (8.6), and Isaiah Thomas (8.5). In the Sixers' standout month of January, Embiid was up to 10.4.

The sound of the referee's whistle prompted a look of excitement on Embiid's face. He joked his teammates get upset with him for trying to draw fouls so often in practices and pickup games. That's his preparation for the real thing.

"To know that I can get those type of calls," Embiid said, "is going to keep me going."