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Are the Raptors wearing down Joel Embiid?

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The Toronto Raptors have changed the momentum of their series vs. 76ers and are only getting healthier. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid is seemingly in a lot of pain with his thumb injury and showed off some poor body language in their Game 5 loss to Toronto.

Video Transcript

- Well, the Raptors--


--with a determined effort from the beginning. Philadelphia led 2-0, and then Toronto took care of business.

AMIT MANN: Do you worry about Joel Embiid, his mentality, going into game six? Because I-- there's a lot of red flags to me. With his demeanor on the court in game-- in game five, he looked like a person who was thinking a lot.

IMMAN ADAN: That's a good question. I wanted to see--

AMIT MANN: When I say worry, I mean like--

IMMAN ADAN: --if I can pull up--

AMIT MANN: I say worry, I mean, like within the context of, I guess, a 76ers person, not that it's a 76ers podcast. But, like, he just looks kind of lost out there at times. And he shouldn't be, because he's Joel Embiid. He's an MVP candidate.

IMMAN ADAN: He's-- Yes I think he gets in his head quite a bit. And we see it. It gets-- he-- he starts complaining. He starts looking and blaming other guys. I really wonder if I can look at his numbers for game seven of the Atlanta Hawks series and really what he was able to do.

I know that that was one that Ben Simmons sort of let slip away without scoring a single point in the fourth quarter. But it'd be interesting to see how he's fared in previous elimination games. I think he's going to come out aggressive. I think he knows he needs to come out aggressive.

And I think what we see happen in the first quarter will dictate what he looks like throughout the rest of the game, as opposed to, like, oh, it just being a game six. I think when Embiid is feeling himself in the first quarter, he'll feel himself all game.

But when he's down in the dumps in the first quarter, he's going to try to force the issue and press the issue. And if he doesn't have it, things could get chippy real quick for them.

AMIT MANN: Not to use excuses, but that thumb-- his thumb, right? Torn labrum?

IMMAN ADAN: OK, like Kyle Lowry--


IMMAN ADAN: --won a championship with a torn labrum in his thumb. Chris Paul made it to the finals with the same injury.


IMMAN ADAN: Joel Embiid, you're fine.

AMIT MANN: I don't know what CP--

IMMAN ADAN: You'll get surgery in the offseason.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, I don't know what his CP status was, but I know Kyle's was on his off-shooting hand. This is on his shooting hand, which I'm assuming would be a much bigger deal. I'm sure he's feeling it every single time he takes a shot. I don't think anyone's going to think about that.

If they do blow this-- this 3-0 series lead, it's not going to be a factor. But I think he maybe-- he has to learn how to play through injury better. That could be something that we're talking about.


AMIT MANN: Because--

IMMAN ADAN: I think Jess-- Jess [INAUDIBLE] said it today, where she was like OK, Embiid, your thumbs hurting, so why are your feet moving slow? I'm like--


AMIT MANN: That's a fair point.

IMMAN ADAN: That's a fair point.


IMMAN ADAN: Because defensively, he just wasn't having it.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, I was going to pivot right to there, because there were seven possessions back, to back, to back, to back, to back, to back, in that seven, where the Raptors were just going at him. And if it wasn't Pascal, it was Precious. If it wasn't Precious, it was OG.


AMIT MANN: And that was in the third quarter. That's when I talk about, like, you know, like, he wasn't moving his feet? And he's in his head. I think he's feeling, like, why is this all on me? I don't know. But--


AMIT MANN: --you don't see Joel Embiid, like, not compete that way. And he wasn't competing.

IMMAN ADAN: I definitely think he's asking that. And I think when you failed in the playoffs as many times as they have, and the Raptors struggled with that with [INAUDIBLE] years, right?

AMIT MANN: Uh-huh.

IMMAN ADAN: Yes, it start-- it's starting to weigh on him. I have to imagine this is starting to weigh on him. And it's, like, again, again, with this. Again I'm in the same place with this team. And I think the Sixers are in for a real interesting off-season regardless of what happens in game six.

And I think that's what makes it so interesting. It's like they can come out and smoke the Raptors in game six. Then the Raptors can come out and smoke the Sixers in game six. Regardless, those questions will need to be answered by the Philadelphia 76ers in the off-season. And I also just want to point, before we move on to the next thing, people are going to make this out to be the Sixers blowing a 3-0 lead, if they happen to do that.

And that might be a part of it, but this is as much the Raptors winning it and going out there and getting it, and I don't know that the Raptors are going to get the credit for doing that when the first two games, we can point to issues that existed-- health being first, primary.


IMMAN ADAN: The Raptors not being able to play their game, because their game is vision six nine.

AMIT MANN: Uh-huh.

IMMAN ADAN: So I just want to make sure that we're, like, and not just us, but like the general populace is understanding that this is much the Raptors going out there and doing it as much as it is the Sixers not being able to win one game to close out a series.

AMIT MANN: And I think this is also part of the Raptors vision. It's that it's like that rope-a-dope method. You just wear your opponent down.


AMIT MANN: And they've been doing it game by game. You look at-- I sent a tweet the other day, you look at Joel Embiid fourth quarter numbers throughout this series, they're not good. And so he is getting tired. And now that they have Scottie Barnes back, and they have Thad Young back, two play-- two more players that they're at least comfortable-ish throwing on-- on Joel Embiid.

Although every single person is a mismatch. But it's just-- they are just wearing him down game by game. And I think he's feeling it. I think that's what we're seeing. And now we're going to go to Toronto in game six, under that-- under those circumstances, and all of a sudden you're going to find your energy? That is something that a true, like, villain, like an absolute, like an unbelievable superstar like the Kevin Durant's or Lebron James's, those are players that will thrive in that environment.

Joel Embiid hasn't shown me that he's willing to do that in a series. He did it in game four, or game three, and that was cool. But let me see you do it a couple of times. And I don't know if he has it in him at this point of his NBA career. Not that he can't find it, but between his finger, between what's going on internally with the 76ers, I don't know if he has that gear.

Although Doc Rivers, yesterday, he's just like, I know we have an extra gear. And it's-- it's cool that we can actually get to it. I'm like, where was it in game five? You don't think you need that gear?

IMMAN ADAN: Don't you-- don't-- don't you-- don't you save your extra gear for elimination games of the playoffs? Isn't that the whole idea, you flipping the switch after the playoffs? What happens.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, well maybe that's his issue over the past couple of times where we've blown the 3-1 series lead. He didn't tell his teams to turn on the gear in time.



--as someone-- that '08 Celtics run, I don't think it gets brought up quite a bit. They needed to go to seven games in the first round, and in the second round. And I think it was six games, or seven even, in the conference finals. As someone who was loving that team, that-- that Rose series, I mean this is up against a young Rose-- no, '08 wouldn't have been Rose, wouldn't it?

Would it have been Rookie Rose, or am I thinking of the following year? Rondo and Rose had a battle. Whatever it is, he needed to get to seven games in basically every series in order to get-- and the Celtics were the one seed in that year. So even when we're talking about his championship, it was not an easy path to the finals in the way that everyone kind of pretends it was.


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