On Monday, the Philadelphia 76ers fought off elimination in a tough Game 4 win over the Boston Celtics.
As with much of the playoffs, the game was chippy, and 76ers star Joel Embiid was at the center of attention. Late in the first half, with the 76ers in the midst of an 8-0 run, Embiid got into it with Celtics guard Terry Rozier.
Rozier was called for a push-off while running a half-court set, and Embiid, well after the whistle blew, approached Rozier in what looked like an attempt to steal a dead ball. In reality, it was likely an attempt to get under Rozier’s skin, and it worked.
Rozier, 6-1, didn’t appear to appreciate Embiid’s aggression after the whistle and shoved back at the 7-foot center’s chest. The pair then scuffled and appeared on the verge of an actual NBA fight before being separated and eventually assessed double technical fouls..
Embiid had plenty to say to Rozier while walking away from the scuffle and continued the conversation in the post-game media conference.
Sixers' Joel Embiid on confrontation w/ Celtics' Terry Rozier: ""He tried to punch me twice. Too bad he's so short he couldn't get to my face. I didn't understand why it was a double technical." pic.twitter.com/ABdaetgeqM
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 8, 2018
“He tried to punch me twice,” Embiid said. “Too bad he’s so short he couldn’t get to my face. I didn’t understand why it was a double technical, because I was just trying to get the ball and he was the one trying to swing.”
Nice try, Joel. You’re not fooling anybody who saw your instigating swipe at the ball that was clearly after the play was dead.
The rest of Embiid’s commentary on the incident gives what seems a little more honest insight into his motivation on the play.
“Those type of plays, they just kind of like boost your energy and it just takes your game to another level,” Embiid said. “So I like getting into that type of stuff.”
He clearly feeds off these kinds of confrontations, and demonstrated as much by knocking down a three-pointer on the next possession, one that Rozier had an answer for.
The Embiid-Rozier rivalry: now featuring dueling 3-pointers!
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) May 7, 2018
While Embiid’s playoff debut appearance seems on the verge of coming to an end, he and the Sixers extended their run for at least one more game on Monday.
And for that, the NBA should be thankful. As long as Embiid is round, things are always more interesting.
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