The difference-maker in Wednesday night's Boston Celtics loss to the Philadelphia 76ers undoubtedly was Joel Embiid's whopping 21 free throw attempts.
The C's simply had no answer for the Sixers' star big man, who finished with 42 points (17 coming from the free throw line). Celtics guard Marcus Smart wasn't impressed, however.
Smart vented after the game about Embiid "flailing" to get calls, and voiced his frustration with his team not getting the same calls on the other end of the floor.
"It's tough. It is tough. Especially when we've got our hands up a lot of the times and he flails and gets the call," Smart said. "And then down on the other end we've got our guys attacking the rim, getting a lot more contact and we're just not getting the whistle. It's tough to play like that. It's tough. If the roles were reversed I'd do it every time. I mean, I'd be on too if every time I threw my arms up or every time I got touched I'm going to the free throw line.
"I mean, it's kind of hard to get into a rhythm that way when you shoot 21 free throws alone and they allow you to hack on the other end. It's tough, but we battled. The team did a good job. We were right there to give ourselves a win and try to run it back on Friday."
Embiid caught wind of Smart's comments and, as you can imagine, he had plenty to say.
"Marcus Smart just told me that I flail a lot? Come on. I'm sure he knows himself and he knows his game too, he does a lot of that," Embiid said. "And I don't think I do. I mean, if you watch basketball and you're a student of the game and if you actually pay attention during the game, we all see. Every single foul, I get fouled. They probably don't call all of them like the last one. There was three minutes left, I went up and that was a foul and they knew it, but they didn't call it, so there's a lot that they don't call, and there's a lot that they call because you have to.
"The game is physical, other teams tend to try to be extra physical against me. And I guess I'm just smarter than everybody else, I just take advantage of how they're guarding me. You can call that, I don't know, basketball IQ, like if you're going to put your hand up there, I'm gonna take advantage of it and I'm gonna get to the free throw line, because I know that I'm a great free throw shooter and that's a better chance for me to help the team win in those situations."
Well then... Friday night should be interesting.
Tip-off for the Celtics-76ers rematch is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston.