Will Joel Embiid play in Game 5? 'Gotta keep 'em guessing'

Will Joel Embiid play in Game 5? 'Gotta keep 'em guessing'

CAMDEN, N.J. — If you’re frustrated by all the last-minute, game-time decisions for Joel Embiid, you’re not alone.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson voiced his displeasure before Game 4 about finding out the Sixers’ starting lineup five minutes before each game of the series. He wondered if the NBA could do something about it.

Embiid spoke to reporters Monday at the team’s practice facility. Maybe he’d shed some light for Atkinson about his status for Game 5 Tuesday night.

“Gotta keep ‘em guessing.”

Maybe not.

While Embiid did say that with a big grin on his face, it’s hard to chalk it up solely to gamesmanship. The left knee soreness he’s dealing with did cause him to miss Game 3, a game the Sixers still managed to win in convincing fashion on the road.

Embiid said the pain is still at the same level and he’s still undergoing constant treatment while trying to find the perfect balance of rest and staying active.

“It goes both ways,” he said. “You can’t rest it completely and you also can’t do too much. Like I said, it’s all about managing it. We just got to figure that out.”

It’s apparent that Embiid has figured out how to get under the Nets’ skin.

He’s committed two Flagrant 1 fouls on young center Jarrett Allen — the second of which he has been adamant in saying he doesn’t agree with. The one Saturday caused series pest Jared Dudley to erupt, which started a fight that got Dudley and Jimmy Butler ejected.

While the trade-off of Butler for Dudley heavily favors Brooklyn, the incident did light a fire under Embiid. But that’s nothing new for the All-Star center. Throughout his career, the “trolling sun of a gun,” as Butler so aptly referred to him, seems to thrive in that kind of environment. 

“It’s fun,” Embiid said. “I try not to pay attention, but things like the other night with the fight, I felt like it took my game to another level, especially with Jimmy being out. I felt like I had to go get it with my teammates' help. Mike [Scott] and JJ [Redick] knocked big shots, Ben [Simmons] had a big steal, too. It’s fun. [It’s] the playoffs. It’s fun and I’m enjoying it.”

With Embiid picking up his second Flagrant 1 of the playoffs, he now has “two points” in the NBA’s system. If he gets up to four points, it’ll be an automatic one-game suspension. 

The Sixers did win Game 3 without him, but as Game 4 demonstrated, he can be absolutely brilliant. If they move on to play the Raptors in the second round, they’ll need the player we saw Saturday afternoon. Losing him to injury is something completely out of anyone’s control. But a suspension is completely avoidable.

So will Embiid change his style at all?

“No. Just got to play basketball,” Embiid said. “If it happens, it happens. Like I said, I’m mature. I know what I’m doing. Although the last one I don’t even know if it was even a foul. It felt like I got all ball so I don’t get why they issued a flagrant foul. It doesn’t make sense, but I’m going to play basketball and be myself.”

Brett Brown didn’t seem to agree with that sentiment. He reminded his players of infamous suspensions in recent playoff history that likely cost teams titles, including Draymond Green’s suspension in 2016 which was a big factor in the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead.

“It’s not holding your breath, there are reminders that I owe my players as the coach to have them be adults — be big boys and navigate through this,” Brown said. “It’s not our fault at times we’re 20 pounds heavier and three inches taller. So in the meantime, we just need to be smarter and that’s my job.”

Whether Embiid plays and tones down his play in Game 5 is anyone's guess.

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Sixers Talk Podcast: Is Tobias Harris worth a max contract?

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Sixers Talk Podcast: Is Tobias Harris worth a max contract?

On this episode of Sixers Talk, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick react to Joel Embiid getting on the NBA's Second Team All-Defense. Did he get disrespected at all?

How far away are the Sixers from winning the Eastern Conference? Which players do they need to bring back?

The guys disagree whether Tobias Harris should get offered a max contract. Also, how much belief is there in Elton Brand?

1:00 - Embiid getting disrespected on the All-NBA teams?
4:30 - Who should be First Team All-NBA?
10:00 - Can getting snubbed help Embiid?
15:00 - How far away are the Sixers from winning the East?
19:00 - Which players do the Sixers need to bring back? Is Harris worth max money?
24:00 - Biggest offseason priorities (after Jimmy Butler).
40:00 - How much faith do you have in Brand?

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Kevin Hart curses at Drake over Sixers' loss to Raptors

Kevin Hart curses at Drake over Sixers' loss to Raptors

Kevin Hart is somewhat polarizing around the Philadelphia sports scene. You like him because he's "from here" and pulls for our squads but you hate him because he's something of a mush.

Fans had petitioned him to stay away from the Sixers during their playoff run — which he mostly obliged — but he still took some blame for who-knows-what-exactly after Philly fell to the Raptors in seven.

Anyway, Hart visited "Live with Kelly and Ryan" this week and they spoke at length about the tough series loss to the Toronto Raptors and also the roll Drake played in it.

"[Drake] wanted to bet on the series and I didn't because he doesn't pay," Hart said. "I think my frustrations from the past is probably what brought some of the negativity into this series. If I had a bet, we probably would have won. Because I didn't bet, he reversed me. He hit me with a reverse-woo."

"You know what's bad," Hart continued. "I didn't even go to the series. I didn't go to no games because I'm so superstitious. I went to games last year and then we lost to Boston."

Then they discussed Drake "cursing" the Sixers by wearing a pair of 76ers shorts during the series. 

"[Drake] wore our team shorts because he's a jerk," Hart said. "He put the reverse on himself because everybody was saying whoever he roots for loses. I should have done the same thing, I should have put on a Toronto Raptors uniform and I didn't. I let my city down. I let my city down."

The segment ended with Kelly and Ryan asking Hart to share a message directly with Drake, who watches regularly. You can watch the whole segment and Hart's very colorful parting message below.

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