You never know where the playoffs will take you.
Joel Embiid didn't have his best game in Game 6 as the Sixers fought to stay in the playoffs against the Hawks, but enough of his teammates stepped up when called upon and now the series returns to Philly for Game 7 in this unexpectedly difficult battle with Atlanta.
After a brutal showing in Game 4 from Embiid, the MVP runner-up has dropped a pair of iffy performances sandwiched by four incredible games. And after Friday night's Game 6 win, Embiid went on the record with a prediction for Game 7:
Let's get that promise in writing:
"I'm definitely gonna be better. There's no chance I play worse than I did tonight, shooting the ball. You know, I'm at home, in front of the home crowd."
YES, JOEL. YES.
You have to love that energy and confidence from the big man heading into maybe the most important game of his career. The infamous Game 7 in 2019 was basically his first real chance at postseason greatness, and he and the Sixers fell just short against a Raptors team that went on to win the title. It was an acceptable end to a season that exceeded expectations.
This time, Embiid and the Sixers aren't just happy to be here - they're expected to reach the Finals. If they lose on Sunday and exit before the Eastern Conference Finals, it'll be a complete failure.
So Embiid being this confident ahead of such a pivotal moment in his time as a professional basketball player is awesome.
Embiid also probably has a little extra motivation because his first Game 7 performance was pretty meh. He shot 6-of-18 from the field and 1-of-6 from deep, scoring just 21 points en route to the heartbreaking loss.
Now Embiid gets his second shot at playing with the highest stakes in basketball, and he sounds ready for the challenge. All's left is to go out and tackle it on Sunday night.