When you are averaging 30.5 points and 11.0 rebounds and you’re coming off a game in which you scored 50 points (on 26 shotts) with 17 rebounds, you’re allowed to make some bold proclamations. Sixers star Joel Embiid made some bold proclamations after putting up those numbers in a tight win over the Bulls on Friday.
Certainly, the Bulls tried to give Embiid different looks throughout the game, including sending double-teams at Embiid. It did not matter much. Embiid simply shot over a lot of the doubles, and made eight of his 13 midrange attempts.
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And Embiid discussed that with the media after the game:
That’s what makes me unguardable. If you’re going to crowd me, I’m going to find my way to the free-throw line or I’m going to end up on the basket. If you’re going to back up on me, I’ve got that hesitation shot and I also got, my favorite, just the pull-up shot, just an easy shot I always get in the post.
So it’s hard when you’ve got that much. And also off the dribble just dribbling the ball and just making things happen. I’ve been adding a lot to my game, and it’s been working well. But I’m excited because that’s what you need in the playoffs.
Billy Donovan Frustrated by Bulls’ D on Embiid
Embiid has established himself as a legitimate MVP candidate this season, which has been not only his most productive but his healthiest. Embiid missed six games so far this season, mostly for rest, and that has helped him be dominant with career highs in points, shooting (54.7%) and 3-point shooting (40.0%).
Embiid missed his first two full seasons when he entered the NBA and has missed at least 18 games in all five of his seasons thereafter.
Bulls coach Billy Donovan tipped his hat to Embiid but suggested his team—including third-year center Wendell Carter—could have done a better job sticking with the gameplan against Embiid.
“Listen, he played a great game, but I thought we had a lot of mistakes,” Donovan said. “We left our feet for shot fakes, we fouled him, we took a really poor stance in post defense. Wendell picked up 2 fouls, obviously probably fouls he maybe could have avoided. I thought when we did play him correctly, I thought our help was late on the back side when he went baseline. That happened too much.”
Embiid: It Is ‘Not About Coaching’
Of course, according to Embiid, his performance is not so much about coaching. Besides health, Embiid says there are other factors going into his MVP-caliber year. Experience is one, as is a new mindset. He also appreciates that GM Daryl Morey has added shooters like Danny Green and Seth Curry.
“It just feels like the game has slowed down for me,” he said. “Last year, honestly, the only difference from this year and last year is not so much about coaching, it is more about me being willing to just dominate every single minute I am on the floor. Last year I was going through a rough time and, you know, it was not there.
“Also, the moves that Daryl made adding all that shooting is helping a lot. But like I said it is not so much about coaching it is just about me just turning a corner and being willing to dominate every second.”