Sixers Legend Under Fire for Strange Joel Embiid Criticism After Game 5

Joel Embiid

Getty Sixers star Joel Embiid was criticized by TNT during Game 5 for being "distracted" over not winning the NBA MVP award.

Charles Barkley is a Philadelphia 76ers legend and a guy who has mostly supported Joel Embiid over the years. He’s not afraid to give the All-Star big man a kick in the pants when he needs it. After watching the Heat destroy the Sixers 120-85 on Tuesday in Game 5, Barkley went into attack mode.

The Hall of Famer accused Embiid of “pouting” over not winning the MVP award and cited the alleged snub as a distraction and reason for his poor performance. Barkley made the accusatory comments during the halftime report on TNT, then fired more venom at Embiid on the post-game show. He didn’t hold back at all.

“You know I said it at halftime. Joel was so distracted by the MVP stuff,” Barkley said. “He came out with no energy. Distracted. And the rest of the team followed.”

When TNT co-host Ernie Johnson reminded him that Embiid was playing with a broken face and torn ligament in his thumb, Barkley just shook his head. And Shaquille O’Neal added: “Nobody cares [about the injuries].”

Neither one cared that Embiid was coming off a mild concussion either. Or that the Sixers star took a nasty shot to the face with 6:11 to go in the second quarter.

“I’m just telling you my opinion. He wasn’t aggressive,” Barkley said. “I don’t mind a guy having a bad game, but he was shooting fadeaway jumpers, he shot a three, he wasn’t aggressive. I’m trying to figure … he only shot the ball 12 times. Remember he made some plays in the second half but the game was already out of control.

“He was distracted. The other players, they’re going to follow him, just like they did in Philly when they won the last two games and he was just out of it. And, man, I feel bad because he’s a great kid but sometimes things happen that bother you and tonight he was clearly not there and the rest of the team followed him.”

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Doc Rivers: ‘Burn the Tape’

The Sixers never found their offensive flow in Game 5 on Tuesday night. They shot 36.5% from the field (31-for-85) while turning the ball over 16 times. The Heat turned those mistakes into 23 points and dominated at both ends of the floor. Miami outscored Philadelphia 56-36 in the paint; and 15-6 on the fast break.

Embiid finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds, with James Harden adding 14 points. Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 23 points and Bam Adebayo (12 points) bounced back from a pair of disappointing performances especially on the defensive end where he was dominant.

After the game, Doc Rivers let his feelings out on a “God awful” showing. They’ll burn the tape and get it fixed on the flight back to Philly.

“Start of the third quarter, I think we made a shot, cut it, looked like we had a chance and then they run off eight points in a row off of turnovers, long rebounds, just God awful transition defense,” Rivers told reporters. “Yeah, I want to watch the tape, maybe I’ll burn the tape, I’m not sure which one. I’ll probably watch it because I have to and then I’ll burn it. But, we’ll be ready next game, we have to be.”


Game 6 Set for Thursday Night

Embiid and the Sixers won’t have much time to rest up before lacing them up again in Game 6. That contest is scheduled for Thursday night (May 12) at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Heat are one win away from closing it out as they hold a 3-2 series lead. Fun stat of the night: the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win 83% of playoff series in the NBA.

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