Joel Embiid pays Celtics a backhanded compliment with "unstoppable" boast

Darren Hartwell
NBC Sports Boston

Joel Embiid pays Celtics a backhanded compliment with "unstoppable" boast originally appeared on nbcsportsboston.com

Joel Embiid is nothing but self-aware.

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The Philadelphia 76ers big man has heard the chatter that he just can't solve the Boston Celtics, and that players like Al Horford and Aron Baynes simply have his number.

There are plenty of stats to back up that chatter, but Embiid nonetheless used the noise as fuel Wednesday night to deliver one of his best performances of the season: a 37-point, 22-rebound effort in Philly's 118-115 win over the Celtics.

Immediately after the game, Embiid responded to his critics in typical Embiid fashion.

"First of all, I'm happy we got the win," Embiid told ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth in a walk-off interview. "Second of all, this is one of the best defensive (teams) in the league.

"I've been hearing that these guys (the Celtics) can guard me better than anybody else, so I just had to come out and show that I'm the most unstoppable player in the league."

Infused in Embiid's bold boast is an apparent begrudging respect for how the Celtics defend him; indeed, the two-time All-Star now averages 13.1 points per 100 possessions fewer than his season average when Horford is his primary defender.

If Aron Baynes hadn't gone down in the second quarter with an ankle sprain and Marcus Smart hadn't gotten himself ejected for shoving Embiid, the big man may not have pulled down those season-high 22 boards or reached 37 points by taking advantage of defensive mismatches.

But credit should be given where it's due, and Embiid certainly looked unstoppable at times down the stretch Wednesday to help Philly earn just its second win against Boston in the last two regular seasons. That's enough to earn him a (brief) victory lap.

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