andre drummond

Joel Embiid on Andre Drummond: 'He can't shoot'

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Joel Embiid on Andre Drummond: 'He can't shoot'

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Joel Embiid said Saturday’s game isn’t about an individual matchup with Andre Drummond. His focus is on helping the Sixers beat the Pistons. 

But considering what happened the last time they met, it’s very much about the two bigs. And Embiid already let his feelings about Drummond’s game be known. 

“No disrespect,” Embiid said after shootaround when asked about Drummond playing by the elbow. “But he can’t shoot. I’ve just got to worry about the defensive coverages that we have as a team.”

The last time they met, Embiid dropped 30 points and nine rebounds in the Sixers Oct. 23 win in Detroit. Following that game he spoke out about the Pistons center, who had posted a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double. 

“Defensively, he doesn’t play any defense,” Embiid said after the game, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “When we started the game, he was being aggressive and he was talking, too. … So what I was like [in my mind] ‘You want to do that? I’m going to kick your [butt] then. So that’s what I did.” 

When the quote was brought to Drummond’s attention on Twitter, Drummond responded, “See you Dec 2nd” … and an emoji for good measure. 

“That means that I’ve already got them mentally,” Embiid said. “For them to go on social media and just start talking whatever just saying something or whatever I think I’ve already got them. I’m excited about the matchup, but it’s about Sixers against Pistons.”

So here it is, Dec. 2 and the 14-7 Pistons are coming into Philadelphia to face the 12-9 Sixers in a contest between two Eastern Conference teams that have clicked early in the season.  

Drummond has turned around his dismal free throw shooting from 38.6 percent last season to 63.9 percent. He’s averaging 14.3 points, 15.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. 

Drummond will be countered by Embiid, who is feeling rested after sitting out Thursday’s game against the Celtics. His playing time has surpassed 30 minutes since playing the Pistons and he comes into his 50th career game averaging 22.9 points, 11.3 boards and 1.8 blocks.

"I'm just going to go out there, do what I do best, that's to be the best defensive player in the league, and help the team win as far as scoring and being a playmaker, too," Embiid said. "It's a Saturday night, there's going to be a lot of fans, Detroit is a pretty good team. Right now they've been doing great since we last played them so there's a lot to be excited about." 

Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond squash beef

Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond squash beef

BOX SCORE

What started with verbal jabs on Twitter and in the media ended with a hug.

Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond traded their pregame banter for mutual appreciation following the Sixers' 108-103 win over the Pistons (see observations).

“I love having fun on social media,” Embiid said. “He does too. So we’re just young kids having fun out there.”

It wasn’t easy to tell which way this matchup would go. Following their first game in October, Embiid commented Drummond doesn’t play defense (see story), which prompted Drummond to tweet “See you Dec 2nd.” 

Embiid then said Drummond can’t shoot, and Drummond snapped back by noting Embiid’s playing restrictions.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

But the extent of their hostility turned out to be Embiid working toward fouling out Drummond, which happened with 2:35 to play. Six fouls, no spat, and a matchup between a 23- and 24-year old to watch for seasons to come.

“Before this game, I told my teammates that he was going to foul out and he did,” Embiid said. “But it’s all fun. At the end of the game, we hugged it out.”

Embiid recorded his 12th double-double with 25 points (7 for 21 from the field) and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes during his 50th career game.

Drummond was a menace across the floor. He posted 14 points (4 for 8 from the field), 11 rebounds, six assists, five steals and a block in 35 minutes. Drummond hit 6 of 8 free throw attempts and was the only Pistons starter on the positive side of the plus-minus.

"It's never hard feelings,” Drummond said. “When was the last time you seen two real big men go at it? It was just a great matchup, I look forward to playing him again. Obviously a hell of a player. I have nothing negative to say about him.”

Drummond and Embiid will go against each other another two times this regular season. They could face off in the playoffs if the Sixers and Pistons continue at this pace, and they end up being selected as All-Stars given how well they are performing.

The first two meetings of this season are only the beginning of how closely the bigs likely will be linked throughout their careers. And so far, they're all for pushing each other in this competition.

Round 2 of Joel Embiid-Andre Drummond should be a doozy

Round 2 of Joel Embiid-Andre Drummond should be a doozy

With the Sixers currently holding a 12-9 record and the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference as the calendar flips to December, you can expect plenty of holiday cheer when the team takes the Wells Fargo Center floor on Saturday against the Detroit Pistons (7:30 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia).

Just don’t expect the joy to be shared by the two starting centers.

Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond have faced off only once in their careers — a 97-86 Sixers’ road win on Oct. 23. Despite Embiid scoring 30 points and Drummond notching a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double, those performances will be merely footnotes in the game’s story. That night will be remembered in NBA history for Ben Simmons’ first career triple-double.

However, that didn’t stop the big men from working their way into the conversation.

Following the victory, the never-shy Embiid shared his thoughts of Drummond’s defensive ability — or lack thereof — on the court.

“Defensively, he doesn’t play any defense,” Embiid told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey after the win. “When we started the game, he was being aggressive and he was talking, too. … So what I was like [in my mind], ‘You want to do that? I’m going to kick your [butt] then.’ So that’s what I did.”

One thing you can’t call Joel Embiid is a liar. The big man attacked right from the opening tip and put up his 30 points in 28 minutes on an efficient 11 for 15 shooting (73.3 percent). He also finished the night with nine boards and a game-best plus-21 rating, compared to Drummond’s minus-11.

“In my mind, I was like, ‘You want to switch up, because you are playing against me,’” Embiid said of Drummond. ”‘You want to be all physical and talk [trash].’ So I was like, ‘You are going to get your [butt beat].’ I love that.”

To his credit, Drummond owned up to his defensive showing after the clash. But the sixth-year center wanted Embiid to know he shouldn’t feel special about the on-court jawing session.

“I talk (expletive) to everybody,” Drummond said, via the Detroit Free Press. “That’s just what I do. I don’t say anything extra to anybody. I talk the same way to everybody — whether you my friend or anybody else.

“I don’t say anything extra because it’s Joel Embiid. I don’t need to do that. I just speak the way I speak. He felt some type of way, that’s on him.”

As news of Embiid’s claims about Drummond began to make waves on social media, the Pistons’ anchor opted to keep his response on Twitter short and sweet.

“See you Dec. 2nd,” Drummond tweeted with a winking emoji.

After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.