Things went as heartbreaking as possible in Game 7 for Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia Sixers. After Kawhi Leonard hit a buzzer-beater, Embiid was seen crying on his way to the locker room. Embiid said prior to the game that he expected to be on the court for the majority of the game.
Embiid was on the court, but often did not look like himself. The Sixers big man looked winded after battling multiple injuries down the stretch.
“It’s the playoffs,” Embiid explained to ESPN prior to Game 7. “I got to play. If I got to play 45 minutes and push myself out there, that’s what I got to do. If that’s what it takes to win, if my presence on the court is needed, I got to be there. It doesn’t matter if it takes the whole game, and I’m fine with it. Going to keep on pushing myself, and in Game 7, we’re going to need it. I’m going to need to be on the court, and I intend to be ready for anything — if I have to play a whole game.”
The Sixers entered the regular season as one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for Philly fans, Leonard’s shot just rimmed in to avoid overtime. It will be an interesting offseason for the Sixers with Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler both hitting free agency.
Here is another look at Embiid and the Sixers walking off the court.
Embiid Played 45 of 48 Minutes in Game 7
Embiid lived up to his prediction by playing 45 of 48 minutes in Game 7 against the Raptors. The Sixers big man finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Philly.com noted that uncertainty surrounds the future of Sixers head coach Brett Brown.
Reaching the conference finals was the Sixers’ season-long goal. There is talk that coach Brett Brown’s job might be in jeopardy if he failed to reach them. There’s even a report that he might even have had to make the NBA Finals to hold onto his job.
After the game, Brown was asked about Embiid’s emotions. Brown noted that Embiid and the Sixers would use this experience to make them better.
“He’ll look in the rear view mirror and remember this,” Brown said, per The Athletic. “He will come out better and smarter and stronger and more aware of really what it takes to play longer.”
Embiid looked emotional on the court as he embraced members of the Raptors. Marc Gasol spoke with him right after the game to console the big man he battled against for seven games.
As NBC’s Tommy Breer suggested, Leonard’s shot may have changed a lot of things for the Sixers. The game was headed to overtime had the shot not fallen.
“It’s not hyperbole to suggest that the future of a couple franchises was potentially hanging in the balance as that ball bounced around the rim…Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris are free agents. Does Brett Brown get fired? Does that moment mean Kawhi is more likely to stay in TOR?” Breer tweeted.