DETROIT–Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is one of the tougher players in the league to defend due to his ability to score at all three levels and his knack for drawing fouls. He is one of the elite players in this league at being able to get to the free-throw line.
Embiid did so at a high rate in Friday’s 114-106 win over the Detroit Pistons on the road. The big fella shot 8-for-21 from the floor, but he was 16-for-19 from the free-throw line to get his 33 points on the night.
Afterward, Pistons coach Monty Williams was not happy about the officiating as he called out how they officiated him.
“Some of the stuff these guys are doing, they’re not shots,” said Williams. “I’m going to go on record. These are not shots. We talk about it in our competition, transfer of information to head coaches meeting, like they are going to call this swinging the ball and hitting people. Like that’s not a shot.”
Embiid does have a habit of swinging his arms into defenders and getting them to lean in and then draw the foul. It’s something that he has mastered throughout his career and it’s something that has allowed him to get to the line often.
For a young team like the Pistons, that can throw them off a bit.
“Our guys are frustrated by it, and I can’t blame them,” Williams added. “He’s good enough and I talked to officials about it. I don’t think those are shots. You just wave your arms and hit somebody and Joel’s tough enough to guard. We doubled him and we frustrated him in the first half.”
Williams is correct. The Pistons held Embiid to 3-for-12 shooting at halftime and he was 7-for-9 from the line. In the second half, Embiid shot 5-for-9 and 9-for-10 from the line.
At the end of the day, Embiid is a superstar and the reigning league MVP. He is going to get certain calls. The Pistons are going to have to understand that the next time they defend him.