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.