The Philadelphia 76ers took a commanding 2-0 lead in their playoff series against the Toronto Raptors on Monday night, after winning 112-97 at Wells Fargo Center. Despite the victory though, Joel Embiid was not happy with the way that Raptors head coach Nick Nurse had complained about calls made by the referee after game one and during game two. The two could be seen having a conversation as the final seconds of game two ticked away.
“He’s a great coach,” Embiid said of Nurse, via ESPN. “Obviously, he’s been able to accomplish [a lot], and [I’ve] always been a big fan. But, I told him, respectfully, I told him to stop b—-ing about calls.”
Embiid finished the night with 31 points and 11 rebounds. He went 12-for-14 from the free-throw line as he caused foul trouble for several Raptors players, as he consistently went to the paint. While Nurse believed Embiid was getting the benefit of the doubt when it came to calls, the big man believes every foul call was well warranted.
“If you’re going to triple-team somebody all game, they are bound to get to the free-throw line, or if you’re going to push them off and try to hold them and all that stuff, they’re bound to get to the free-throw line,” Embiid argued. “So I feel like every foul was legit and probably should have been more, honestly.”
Nurse did not agree with Embiid following game two, but admitted there were less elbows to the face on Monday night than when he complained to the media following game one on Saturday.
“At least there wasn’t as many elbows thrown to the face tonight that we had to endure,” Nurse commented, via ESPN.
When asked about his conversation with Embiid, Nurse mentioned what Embiid had told him.
“He was saying to me that, ‘I’m going to keep making all the free throws if you keep fouling,'” Nurse said. “And I said, ‘Well, you might have to.’ But a good player, man. I got a lot of respect for him. He’s certainly playing great here. There’s nothing there but us trying to compete against him and him trying to compete against us.”
The Toronto Raptors defeated the Philadelphia 76ers on their way to the 2019 NBA Championship when Kawhi Leonard hit a last-second buzzer-beater in game seven to eliminate Philadelphia in the second round of the postseason. The 76ers have made it back to the playoffs every year since but have yet to advance past the second round since reaching the NBA final in 2001.
“Referees and the league, they’re the same way,” Embiid said. “They’re gonna come in the next game, and they are gonna let stuff go. So, you know, they’re not going to call, you know, some fouls. So, in that case, you got to be more aggressive. You got to go to the rim with more power. You got to jump over people, you got to try to finish through contact. Because that’s an adjustment when it’s the refs coming in and [the Raptors are] complaining.
“I’ve been doing this for quite a while to know that’s usually the adjustment. [And] in that case, that’s where I’d become more physical.”