If Joel Embiid can’t lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a victory over the Miami Heat, his MVP-caliber season could crumble tonight. If Philadelphia is sent to the semifinals again, it will be the fourth time in five years that has happened. Two things are clear about Embiid’s situation in Philadelphia:
1.) The narrative about Embiid is shifting from him as a great player on the rise to a great player who can’t be done in big moments.
2.) This guy can’t seem to rest with his so-called star teammates who aren’t productive and the frequent injuries that cause him to miss a lot of time each year.
This narrative is the easiest part of Joel to change because he can change that the most by winning. This is Embiid’s sixth NBA season (he missed the first two years due to injury) and he has yet to reach the Western Conference finals. As the best player in the series against Miami, many expected Embiid and the Sixers to handle Miami quickly. This is not the case. Embiid missed the first two games with an injury, then returned in games three and four, played wellPhiladelphia was able to tie the series in two games.
Then Game 5 happened. In that game, Embiid and Philly could have destroyed Miami’s morale, clinching a three-game winning streak in the series, plus a home win for the Heat. Instead, the 76ers looked flat as tires and lost 35 points. Embiid was Philadelphia’s top scorer with 17 points. I know he’s not 100%, but when will Joel Embiid be fully healthy? This isn’t the first time Embiid has had a chance to gain a foothold among the top superstars and the league, and he’s failed.
Embiid had a stellar performance against Giannis Giannis in March, with 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in the Sixers’ game against the Bucks.Then came winning time. Embiid had a chance to dunk the game into overtime with seconds left, but he opted for a layup and was eaten by Giannis. That game was in the heat of the MVP race, and Embiid could have made his mark.
The Sixers played another game two weeks ago, and Embiid could have planted his MVP banner against eventual champion Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. Joel played well, scoring 34 points and nine rebounds, but Denver won 114-110. Embiid talked about the odds of winning the MVP over the past few years, but when he got the chance to show it to voters, he didn’t jump at it. Embiid’s two big wins in the final month of the season between two players vying for MVP will go a long way toward his MVP case.
But Embiid still didn’t win the MVP and was on the verge of elimination in the second round. Despite Jokic’s streak of MVP awards, there is still a group of people who consider Embiid to be the best center in the game. Jokic has one Finals appearance on his resume. I don’t care if it happened in the Orlando bubble. Embiid and his Sixers were bounced in the first round of the same bubble. We know what Giannis has done over the past two years to change his narrative. He led his team to the Finals and won.
So, it can be done. Joel can turn the story upside down, and it starts with staying alive in the Heat and pushing the series to Game 7. Game 7 is where the stars shine the most. If Embiid is serious about superstar status, he has to make it to the Western Conference finals. Soon, excuses and shirks won’t work. Embiid paid a lot for it.
For years, the excuse was to believe in “the process,” and even after he left, Sam Hinkie took responsibility (and rightfully so). The team is young enough to at least make the playoffs, so Embiid gets the pass.And then Ben Simmons, will he Does not disappoint to his potential.
Embiid took aim at Simmons after Game 7 against Atlanta last postseason. But in any case, the series shouldn’t boil down to the Game 7 situation. Once again, Embiid got out of the woods and was allowed to blame others.
If the 76ers lose to the Heat, it’s James Harden’s fault this time, right?Harden is like hell His former self, by no means can be trusted in the playoffs. Or, if they get eliminated by Miami, maybe he’ll turn on Doc Rivers and throw his coach under the bus.
Stop making excuses.
It’s time for Embiid to leave this team behind and carry them like the superstar he aspires to be. Harden certainly won’t do that, and Rivers can only do so much on the sidelines. In these playoffs, Joel’s superstar status is on the line. It’s up to Embiid to figure out how this narrative happens.