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

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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."

Sixers Talk podcast: Training camp is coming

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Sixers Talk podcast: Training camp is coming

Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick go back and forth about JJ Redick's comments about the importance of team dinners, five Sixers landing on SI's top 100, and Joel Embiid saying he has lost 25 pounds.

• Discussing nuggets about Jimmy Butler and the quadruple doink from JJ Redick's appearance on the Lowe Post.

• Sports Illustrated's Top 100 for 2020 came out. The rankings are mostly fair but the guys have one gripe.

• Joel Embiid said he lost 25 pounds ... but he clearly didn't lose his sense of humor.

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JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

Sixers fans are generally excited about the team's new roster construction heading into the 2019-2020 season, but there's no doubt the sharp shooting of JJ Redick will be missed.

Redick took his talents down to the bayou and will suit up for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. Redick joined ESPN NBA insider Zach Lowe on Lowe's podcast this week to talk about his new opportunity. They also reflected a bit on his time with the Sixers and the tough loss to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the playoffs after four bounces of a Kawhi Leonard desperation shot.

Redick is open about the fact that the decision to move on to New Orleans was partly financial.

"I never got the sense that [the Sixers] didn't want to bring me back. Unfortunately, it came down to a little bit of economics," Redick said.

Jimmy Butler's decision to move on to the Miami Heat obviously precipitated that move. Redick speaks highly of Butler regardless of his decision.

"I love Jimmy. I would play with Jimmy again," Redick said. "He is in the upper tier of two-way players and in the upper tier of offensive players in the NBA, period."

So Redick has moved on to New Orleans, but it's tough not to think back to what could have been. There was a point in the Toronto series where Redick believed the Sixers were capable of winning the NBA championship last season.

"Joel [Embiid] and I spent some time together after the season and we talked about it. It was Game 4 [against Toronto] for us. We lost that game and I felt like, for most of that game, we had control, not just that game but that series. We had a chance to go up 3-1. That was the opportunity that we missed. You lose that game and it's 2-2 and you've got to win 2 out of 3 against Toronto, and that's a tough task."

One other interesting nugget from Redick's time in Philly was his sharing that he believed they didn't do enough team dinners on the road.

"I wish, I've tried, I wish, the team meal on the road is huge. I think it's huge. We didn't do it enough last year in Philly. We tried. It wasn't enough. Some of that, look, nobody wants to be forced to go to dinner. It's got to be real and authentic."

Some other choice quotes from the pod below.

On Ben Simmons getting a jumper.

"Ben works. He worked all of last offseason. I witnessed him during the season get his shots up after practice every day. I think he'll be able to shoot at some point. A lot of it is confidence. He can shoot a high enough clip when he's shooting spot shots that it should translate to shooting threes in a game. The video that went viral, looks to me like he's shooting with some confidence there."

Lowe also asked Redick about the dagger shot in Toronto.

"I was on the bench," Redick said. "I sort of had that perfect angle 'cause as soon as the ball had come inbounds, I sort of walked onto the baseline. Not on the court, but onto the baseline so I could get a straight-on view of the action. My memory may be a little jogged but my arms were crossed, I was watching the ball bounce around the rim, and it went in. I'm not sure I had any initial reaction, I think it was just shock. Part of you wants to walk off the floor and punch a wall and the other part of you, if I'm the Raptors, I'd want to dap up the people that I had just played a seven-game series against. I stayed on the court and talked to Kyle, Marc, Kawhi, Danny and those guys. Told them I hope they win a championship and walked off. Then you get back to the locker room and you see the emotion, I was obviously feeling emotional, then Joel started crying. Those are the sorts of moments that you don't forget. As much as you don't forget the shot, the aftermath of moments like that, you just don't forget. There's just a lot of raw emotion."

You can listen to Redick's entire conversation with Zach Lowe right here.

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