Embiid is a massive problem for teams
Game Three of any NBA Playoffs matchup is often one of the most pivotal as it can swing a series one way or another and the team in the lead can look to control things. That’s what the Philadelphia 76ers knew going into their game against the Toronto Raptors. The Canadian team had looked a solid and efficient unit for most of the regular season. They also elevated their game when they needed to in their 4-1 First Round series victory over the Orlando Magic. The Magic had stolen one but Toronto and Kawhi Leonard found the all-important ‘next level’ to rise to as they steamrolled the Magic to close them out. The battle against the Sixers is another matchup altogether. This is a number two seed facing a number three seed. There really isn’t much to separate them and that’s where Joel Embiid comes in, because he is almost unstoppable on his day.
Let’s start with the Raptors though, Kawhi Leonard is an incredible player and has helped propel this current iteration of the Raps to the Conference Semifinals. He has had help from Cameroonian youngster Pascal Siakam who has been a revelation for Nick Nurse’s team. Siakam, Embiid’s compatriot, looks likely to be the shoe-in for the Most Improved Player this term but even he and Leonard couldn’t seem to get a handle on the Sixers when Embiid was involved on Friday morning. The Raptors had done well in the first two games, restricting Embiid to 16 points in Game One and 12 points in Game Two. The teams shared the spoils across those games with Toronto taking the win first up, before Philly stole one on the road.
In Game Three Embiid went full beast mode and his stat-line was a thing to behold. It read, 33 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and three assists. He was 3-4 from beyond the arc and was on-fire from where ever he shot from. The standout play from him was a pump-fake and sprint to the basket for a windmill jam. He was pumped after that play, the Sixers’ fans were cheering as loudly as they had all night and it was the exclamation point on a statement victory. Here’s the clincher though, Embiid only played 28 minutes in his dominant performance.
In Game Three Embiid went full beast mode and his stat-line was a thing to behold. It read, 33 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and three assists.
The massive Cameroonian big-man is still having his minutes managed due to a dodgy knee, but that hasn’t stopped him from laying waste to teams. This playoffs he is averaging 22.9 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game, 2.4 blocks per contest. That is a lot of production from a guy who is only averaging 26.7 minutes a game in the postseason. Brett Brown is banking on Embiid having an impact whenever he is on the floor and he is doing just that, his plus/minus of +13 is a huge boost.
Embiid’s greatest asset though is his presence. When he is on the court it lifts the fans, lifts his teammates and raises the temperature of the game. He is determined to succeed and he had found many different ways to do that. It could be with his strength in the post, his long-range shooting or his clowning around when his team is on top. Embiid is everything that makes this 76ers team a threat when they do battle with opponents. He is fun to watch and fans love that. Even his post-game press conference appearances have become must watch affairs, as much as his social media accounts have become. His is definitely one of Africa’s biggest draw cards and he knows it. The Raptors have an Embiid problem and they need to come up with a plan to try and stop him or else they face another premature exit from the postseason.