Joel Embiid has a chance to change the course of his career tonight in the Sixers‘ first Game 7 since being eliminated by Toronto two years ago, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The lasting images from that game are Embiid being consoled by Raptors center Marc Gasol and then crying in the tunnel after Kawhi Leonard‘s series-winning shot bounced on the rim several times before falling.
Philadelphia wasn’t a factor in last year’s playoffs, being swept by the Celtics in the first round. That led to a coaching change and a front office shakeup, and now Embiid has a new supporting cast as he tries to reach the conference finals for the first time.
“I’m excited,” Embiid said. “This time around, it’s at home. Even back then, I believe that if we had home court, it would have been easier to win. But that’s why we worked so hard in the regular season to get that home-court advantage.”
There’s more on the Sixers:
- Coach Doc Rivers is supporting Embiid’s claim that he’s not getting his share of calls from officials in this series, according to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid got into an altercation with Hawks forward John Collins after a collision in Game 6 and then criticized the referees afterward. “I thought (with) Joel there were several things, one layup he made that a guy undercut his body, he fell to the floor, zero (call),” Rivers said. “The bigs, I complain about this to the competition committee, it just seems like you can take liberties with them that you can’t take with the guards out on the three-point line.”
- Rookie guard Tyrese Maxey was a difference maker in Friday’s win in Atlanta, notes Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. After his reserves played poorly in Game 5, Rivers told Maxey he would be the first guard off the bench. He responded with 16 points and seven rebounds and replaced Furkan Korkmaz in the lineup Rivers used to close the game.
- Ben Simmons‘ struggles during the playoffs have reduced his trade value throughout the league, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his latest podcast (hat tip to Adrian Bernecich of Blazer’s Edge). Lowe considers a few possible deals involving Simmons, including a swap with the Trail Blazers for CJ McCollum.