Joel Embiid on tough P.J. Tucker: ‘I’d be lying if I said that we’ve had those types of guys’
P.J. Tucker endeared himself to the Rockets with his toughness, physicality and effort. He then helped the Bucks win a championship with his toughness, physicality and effort. Now, he just used his toughness, physicality and effort to help the Heat beat the 76ers and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Philadelphia star Joel Embiid noticed.
It sounded like Embiid was making a larger (honest) point, realized he was demeaning his teammates then tried to spin it as talking about only P.J. Tucker.
The 76ers had one player who exudes those traits of toughness and determination (plus scoring ability), but that’s its own can of worms. Jimmy Butler now plays with P.J. Tucker and Bam Adebayo on the Heat. Embiid’s other teammates over the years have collectively skewed too far to the the finesse side of the playing-style spectrum.
Embiid showed his toughness this postseason by playing through a broken face and a thumb injury that will require offseason surgery. He could mix it up inside more at times, yes. But with his overall growth, it’s fair of him to ask more in those areas from his teammates.
That’ll require not just personnel change, but a culture change. Someone like Al Horford looks plenty tough with the Celtics. He didn’t fit in Philadelphia the same way.
76ers forward Tobias Harris didn’t see that extraordinary effort from his team. Heck, he didn’t see even minimally acceptable effort from his team.
At a certain point, that reflects on the coach. Harris’ comments only increase scrutiny on Doc Rivers. Motivating the team is part of his job, and he didn’t do it well enough.
From culture to roster to coaching, Philadelphia must determine how to fix this problem.