Was Game 3 that long ago? The game where Embiid did whatever he wanted on the court against the Raptors? He crushed their souls with vicious blocks should anyone dare approach the basket. He hit 3-pointers. He provided a windmill dunk just for good measure. It was a festival of laughs for Embiid and the Sixers as they trounced the Raptors 116-95.
But that was before a virus infected Embiid, or maybe the virus just got worse as he was not feeling well Game 2, either, or maybe there is no virus. What’s going on here?
Either way, Game 3 was the only time we’ve seen that version of Embiid – the one where he was the best player on the court.
The Sixers are cooked if he doesn’t rediscover his Game 3 form.
They face the ruthless precision of Kawhi Leonard. His standard operating procedure is to dribble to his ‘spot’ and score the basketball. Simple. A great example of this was the 3-pointer he made late in Game 4 when everyone knew he would take the shot, the type of shot that defines a superstar. Ben Simmons was able to use his size and strength against Nets’ guard D’Angelo Russell to slow down the Nets’ offense. But Kawhi isn’t Russell, and the Sixers need their best player to respond with the same level of play.
The NBA team with the best player usually wins the series, and even though this is a boring cliché, it holds true. Joel Embiid’s status as Philly’s best player is unassailable, so it’s reasonable to project that should Embiid play as he did in Game 3, the Sixers will win. Don’t focus on Ben Simmons’ inability to make an outside shot, because he hasn’t all season, and wasn’t that the reason they brought in Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, to help ease the scoring burden?
No, don’t put the onus on Simmons or anyone else on the Sixers roster – this is about Embiid – the player who loves Twitter and has a flair for dramatic expression as he flies around the court after a dunk, and the guy who stares down an opponent after blocking his shot. Embiid loves the spotlight, and the lights shine brightly during the playoffs.
Don’t jewels shine brightest under the light?
The ball is in your court Joel Embiid.