Embiid’s Trash Talk W in Brooklyn

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Updated: December 31, 2021
Tyrese Maxey

If I told you that Durant and James combined for 66 on a Harden triple-double, it would be safe to assume that the opposing squad was the one charged with the L. But as the title suggests, it was Joel Embiid and his cast of role players who got the last laugh in Brooklyn. With trash talking between the two All-NBA stars in KD and The Process at the end of regulation, it looked as if things had gotten heated between the two 7-footers. However, when Durant was asked after the game if Embiid crossed a line with what was said, he playfully responded with:

“If you’ve been watching Joel and I play against each other, it’s been like that every game. Even the All-Star game. We just respect each other so much, that natural competitive fire comes out. It’s the name of the game… We love competition, and this is only going to make it better…Hell no. He ain’t really say nothing, I think I just was turnt up… Nah, he didn’t say nothing that crossed the line. We all respect each other out there. I respect his team, I respect all the players on his team, and vice-versa. It’s just how we play.”

With 34 and 7 and a convincing closeout to a 110 to 102 victory, Joel had every right to smile his way to the visiting locker room, picking up the win up on the road—something that has caused problems for the 76ers in the recent past. One of the biggest reasons for the loss for the home team was the lack of offensive support from the Nets’ role players. Outside of LaMarcus’ 12 and Nick Claxton’s 10, the rest of the Nets’ players scored a total of 14 points.

For Philly, they received contributions from all ends of the roster. Outside of Joel, Embiid’s backcourt combined for 37 points in Maxey in Curry. And it is this tandem that has continued to create a logic that maybe it is not a top-tier score first guard that Morey and the front office should be fixated on when shopping Ben Simmons at the trade deadline. Especially with the continuous evolution of young Tyrese Maxey, it is nearly unfathomable that he would be included as a mere deal-sweetener for another player at his same position with the big shot-making he put on display tonight. 

His running mate in Seth Curry looks designed to hit big open shots in the clutch. Alongside the closing backcourt Georges Niang has been a nice fit next to Tobias Harris as their wing scorers, however, if they were going to upgrade it would probably be here in the wing or with a small ball big.

It is wins like this that sobers up the claims that the East is a two-man race between the Bucks and Nets, and that a team like these 76ers who have one of the most dominant two-way players in the NBA can’t steal a series or two with the right matchups. If the belief in the front office of Philadelphia is that this team is at least a Blackhorse contender to the title, then the Simmons exchanges they are considering should be expanded to quarters for dollars. Especially since Dame Dollar Sign in Portland and Brad Beal in our nation’s capital have struggled with their shots (which is the only attribute that makes them stars), the Sixers should look more to two-way style players who can help surround their small backcourt.

Without any additions for the sitting Simmons, the likelihood of Philly contending for the title feels low, at least for most analysts around the league. However, if they were able to strengthen their depth and the versatility of their rotations, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Embiid and Philly could be a problem. 

Sure from an assets standpoint, it would be seen as a loss by selling low on Big Ben…but if they believe the additions can help them get to the Finals, do any of the evaluations of asset value really matter? That might be what it really comes down to in early February at the deadline—does this front office believe this team is a contender without an additional All-Star? It is wins like this on the road, that has to make ownership craving the pieces that a Ben Simmons trade may provide in the midst of Joel’s precious prime.

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