The Toronto Raptors have lost six straight games, which is currently the longest streak in the NBA. While there is a slew of problems that fans, pundits, and even players alike can point to, Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid holds a stinging — and unique — perspective on the matter.
The Sixers defeated the Raptors 104-101 in overtime on Monday night, marking a sixth consecutive loss for Toronto. Embiid finished the contest with 28 points and 11 rebounds, but shot 6-16 from the field.
During his post-game presser, the five-time All-Star was asked about his teammate De'Anthony Melton and his ability to remain confident despite subpar shooting performances. Embiid, never one to mince words, decided to add to the Raptors’ laundry list of issues, stating that role players must be ready to play against Toronto because they prioritize stifling the opposing team’s best players over winning the game.
“We’re always on him, me especially,” Embiid told reporters after the game regarding Melton. “Everybody really, because I know that as long as they keep shooting, whether it’s him, Tobias [Harris], P.J. [Tucker], James [Harden], guys coming off the bench. As long as they keep shooting — it doesn’t matter if I make it or not — it makes my job easier.
"But when you play a team like Toronto, they don’t really care. It seems like, most of the time, they don’t care about winning. They just want to shut down the other star players. But when you play that, you got to be ready all night. You got to stay alert and have the confidence of just keep shooting it and hope that you make them when they come, and that’s what he did tonight.”
Embiid and the Raptors have had a tumultuous relationship over the past couple of years, dating back to their scintillating seven-game series in 2019, where Kawhi Leonard hit the walk-off game-winner in the deciding contest, so it’s plausible that the MVP candidate is merely slighting his rivals for the sake of it.
However, there’s no denying that there are serious issues plaguing Toronto at the moment. They rank at, or near the bottom, in a slew of defensive categories, half-court offence statistics, and three-point shooting. Not to mention the team’s body language as of late, which has been fraught with dissolution, belying the typical indefatigable spirit that inspires this Toronto team and its fans.
The Raptors will hope to snap their six-game skid against the Knicks on Wednesday night.
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