It was only a matter of time.
The Sixers and Celtics had played three physical playoff games free of really any extra-curricular activities. This on the heels of the Sixers' series against the Heat when it felt like an altercation could break out on any given possession.
But in the Sixers' 103-92 Game 4 win over the Celtics Monday (see observations), which was another slow, ugly slugfest that featured 51 fouls, tensions finally boiled over.
And of course, Joel Embiid was involved.
Late in the first half with the Sixers in the midst of an 8-0 run, Terry Rozier was called for an offensive foul. After the call was made, Embiid tried to take the ball away from Rozier, who pulled the ball away, stepped toward the Sixers' center and stared him down.
To no surprise, Embiid wasn't going to shy away as he made a few more swipes at the ball before Rozier finally had enough and threw this forearm into Embiid's chest twice. The two were quickly separated and, following video review, each assigned a technical foul.
After Rozier took a physical swing, Embiid countered with a verbal jab of his own postgame.
"I was trying to get the ball to keep the game flowing cause I felt like we had an advantage and we were on a run," Embiid said. "[Rozier] kept the ball away from me and tried to punch me twice, but too bad he's so short that he couldn't get to my face. I didn't understand why it was a double technical cause I was just trying to get the ball and he was the one trying to swing."
Rozier, who tortured the Sixers in the first three games of the series, was bottled up in Game 4, finishing with 11 points (4 for 11 from the field) and two assists (see story).
"We lost the game," Rozier said when asked if he thought the Celtics lost their cool Monday. "Whether we lost our cool, we can use a million excuses. We lost the game, they played better than us, they played harder than us.”
Embiid wasn't done mixing it up with the Celtics after his altercation with Rozier either.
Late in the third quarter, Marcus Morris tried to take Embiid off the dribble but was stymied at the rim. Embiid stared Morris down before converting an offensive rebound into an uncontested dunk on the other end.
On Embiid's trip back down court, he began to trash talk Morris right in his face.
As a response, Morris simply reminded Embiid of the series' scoreboard.
Marcus Morris just dropped a 3-0 hand gesture at Joel Embiid 😱 pic.twitter.com/JDJi4c6Lmz— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 7, 2018
"Because it's reality," Morris said of why he made the gesture to Embiid. "It's hard because I know I wouldn't say a damn word down 3-1, but, hey, we all different."
No matter the series score, it won't have a bearing on Embiid's trash talk. And the longer the Sixers stay alive, the louder he'll likely get.
What if the Celtics go back at the Sixers' All-Star and try to mix it up with him like Rozier did? Advantage Embiid.
"The way Jo handles himself on the floor is great. He feeds off their energy," Ben Simmons said. "For somebody to frustrate him and get under his skin, I think he's just gonna throw it down harder when he gets to the rim and go up stronger."
"I feel like those type of plays, it just boosts your energy and just takes your game to another level," Embiid said. "So I like getting into [that] type of stuff."