By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Joel Embiid was not a happy camper after his 76ers lost to the Boston Celtics for the third time this season. The frustrated big man had a few choice words to share following Tuesday night’s 112-109 defeat in Philly, taking aim at NBA officials.
“The referees [flippin’] suck,” said Embiid, who promptly stormed away from the podium.
That one is going to cost him.
The play that likely spawned Embiid’s verbal lambasting came with 33.9 seconds left and Boston up 106-104. Embiid started to drive to the basket but was met by C’s big man Al Horford, who hit his arm as he went up for his shot. Officials let them play, much to the dismay of Embiid.
The Celtics came up with the miss and Marcus Smart eventually slammed it home on the other end, driving past a statuesque Embiid, who was still flummoxed by the previous no-call.
NBA refs are an easy target these days, especially after they admitted that travelling is essentially legal early Tuesday. But Embiid failed to mention that Philly owned a 31-21 advantage at the charity stripe, and there were several times where he bullied Horford and didn’t get hit with a whistle (both bigs finished with five fouls, which may also explain the late-game no-calls). If anything, the refs were inconsistent for both teams.
But Embiid’s overall frustration is understandable. His team just can’t beat the Celtics. Boston is now 3-0 against Philadelphia this season and 10-2 against their Atlantic Division foe dating back to last season. That includes Boston’s 4-1 series win in the playoffs last season, when an undermanned Celtics team embarrassed a red-hot 76ers team.
Embiid finished Tuesday’s loss with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but as was the case the last dozen times they’ve met, Horford once again got the better of the matchup. The veteran frustrated Embiid on the defensive end, holding him to 5-for-16 shooting (Embiid was 9-for-22 overall) and forcing him to settle for a season-high eight attempts from three-point land. Embiid connected on just two of those attempts.
But he refused to give Horford any credit after the loss.
“He’s not doing anything,” Embiid said when asked about Horford’s defense. “I was sleep-walking for three quarters, and that’s on me.”
Embiid must have dozed off a bit again late in the fourth, because he made a pretty bone-headed play in the closing seconds. With his team down three and with no timeouts, Embiid corralled an offensive rebound with five seconds on the clock. Rather than kick it out to a teammate beyond the arc, he went for a putback with 2.4 seconds left.
At least he was willing to admit that folly after the game.
“I should’ve kicked it out or took it out and shot it. I didn’t think about the situation and us not having a timeout,” Embiid said of the play. “I thought we had one, and as soon as I shot it, I looked and said, ‘I’m stupid.’ But, like I said, that’s on me. I need to do a better job.”
In a nutshell, Embiid was alllllllll over the place Tuesday night. He jacked up way too many threes, was a puddle again against Horford once again, and his late-game brain cramp cost the 76ers a shot at tying the game. His postgame comments will likely cost him some loot in the near future.
While he accepted some accountability after the game, Embiid then put the blame on the zebras. It’s easy to see why Philadelphia has struggled so much against the Celtics.