Joel Embiid

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, George, Oubre, Finals

Sixers center Joel Embiid and Clippers forward Paul George appeared together on ABC’s “NBA Countdown” program Friday ahead of Game 4 of the Finals, prompting speculation that there could be mutual interest in a Philadelphia team-up this summer, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Hopefully, this offseason we find a way to get better and add some pieces,” Embiid said, while shooting a meaningful glance in the direction of George, who was seated next to him.

George, 34, has a $48.8MM player option for the 2024/25 season, and the Sixers could easily carve out maximum-salary cap space. George and the Clippers have yet to come to terms on a new contract extension deal. While the 6’10” forward, a nine-time All-Star, remains a pretty lethal two-way threat, he has struggled with injury issues over the past several seasons.

Pompey writes that, should George become available in free agency, the Sixers think a trio of George, Embiid and All-Star point guard Tyrese Maxey could be enough to help the team compete for championship hardware in 2024/25.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers small forward Kelly Oubre Jr., an unrestricted free agent this summer, has signed with CAA to represent him, the agency announced (via Twitter). The 6’7″ swingman enjoyed a solid debut season with Philadelphia on a veteran’s minimum contract. He played so well, in fact, that he seems to be in line for a major raise this summer. Across 68 games (52 starts), he averaged 15.4 points on a .441/.311/.750 slash line, plus 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks.
  • A 122-84 Game 4 massacre in their Finals series with the Mavericks felt like déjà vu to the Celtics, notes Steve Buckley of The Athletic. Dallas, with its back against the wall trailing 3-0 in the series, responded in a huge way, and looks to have some fight left after all. Boston found itself in an 0-3 hole last season, in the Eastern Conference Finals, to the Heat. The Celtics managed to make it a series, winning the next three straight to push Miami to a Game 7, which the Heat won. “A year ago this time, we were down 0-3 and we were essentially fighting for our lives,” All-NBA Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “So very short answer, yeah, we understand what it’s like from their point of view, and you know, they came out super aggressive.”
  • In case you missed it, Celtics All-Defensive guard Derrick White is looking like a favorite to replace injured All-NBA Clippers wing Kawhi Leonard on Team USA in next month’s Paris Olympics, should Leonard not recover in time. White could work out a contract extension this summer to stay with Boston. A strong showing for Team USA could help strengthen his case.

And-Ones: White, Leonard, Embiid, Haliburton, 2024 Free Agency, More

Derrick White is a real contender to replace Kawhi Leonard on Team USA for this year’s Paris Olympics if Leonard is unable to suit up, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter video link via Clutch Points’ Tomer Azarly).

White’s emerged as one of the league’s best defensive players over the past few seasons and he’s been a large part of Boston’s championship aspirations. This season, White averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steal per game in the regular season while being named to the All-Defensive Second Team. Through 18 playoff games, White is averaging 16.9 PPG.

Leonard was named to the 12-man Olympic roster but battled through knee inflammation toward the end of this season, which kept him out of the Clippers’ final three playoff games. When healthy, Leonard averaged 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in 68 games for the Clippers this season.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid was hobbled through the playoffs and missed more than half the regular season but he’s still on track to suit up for Team USA starting next month, according to ESPN. “I’m doing great. Just getting ready for the Olympics,” Embiid said on ABC on Friday night. “It’s going to be big for me because I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a kid.” Embiid chose to play for the United States over France and Cameroon.
  • Like Embiid, Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton expects to be healthy by the time he suits up for the U.S., according to IndyStar’s Dustin Dopirak. “The hamstring is good,” Haliburton said. “… Today I ran for the first time full speed. I got another three weeks before USA. I feel good. I’m really excited to get out there and do that.” Haliburton missed 10 games in January with his hamstring injury, then re-injured it during the Eastern Conference finals.
  • The NBA offseason has begun for 28 teams, and with no more than three games left in the season, we’re starting to have a clearer idea of what decisions teams will be making this summer. Bobby Marks of ESPN (ESPN+ link) breaks down some of these key decisions and potential contract details in a 2024 free agency/offseason primer. Some of the most important decisions impacting the course of the offseason include what the Hawks do at No. 1 overall in the draft, whether or not Donovan Mitchell extends with the Cavaliers and what LeBron James‘ next contract looks like.
  • Several teams are flush with cap space this offseason, including the Sixers — a team with two stars under contract that now has ample spending power. In an article predicting the biggest moves of the 2024 offseason, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report speculates that Philadelphia winds up signing Paul George to a max contract. In addition, Pincus predicts Klay Thompson, Malik Monk and Tobias Harris head to Orlando and Isaiah Hartenstein signs with Oklahoma City.

Fischer’s Latest: Sixers, George, Mitchell, LeBron, Butler, Kuzma, More

With Joel Embiid at center and Tyrese Maxey heading up their backcourt, the Sixers will enter this offseason with significant cap room and a desire to fill the gap between their two incumbent stars with an elite two-way wing, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. According to Fischer, Philadelphia views its opportunity as something similar to the one Golden State had in 2016, when a huge single-year cap spike allowed the Warriors to create the room to add Kevin Durant to a core that already featured Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

Whether the 76ers will be able to add a player anywhere near Durant’s level is unclear. Paul George – who has been on Daryl Morey‘s radar since he worked in Houston’s front office, per Fischer – has frequently been cited as the most logical target for the club, but the Clippers remain hopeful they’ll be able to lock up the star forward to a new contract.

As Fischer writes, there are two major factors worth keeping an eye on in regard to George’s situation. One is a belief from rival teams and agents that the Clippers aren’t inclined to commit guaranteed money beyond the three-year window that begins in 2024/25. If that’s the case, a four-year offer from the Sixers or another club could appeal to George.

The second consideration to monitor is whether the Clippers’ ability to give George a no-trade clause could be a difference-maker in negotiations. That would only be an option if George turns down his player option and reaches free agency, but it’s something Philadelphia wouldn’t be able to offer, since a player must have spent at least four years with a team to qualify for a no-trade clause.

In considering other potential suitors for George, Fischer mentions the Magic and the Pacers, though he acknowledges that chatter about the possibility of George returning to Indiana predated the team’s acquisition of Pascal Siakam. The Knicks and Heat are among the other teams expected to go star-hunting, Fischer notes.

For what it’s worth, multiple player agents suggested to Fischer that they’d advise their clients to consider Embiid’s injury history and inconsistent playoff availability before committing to Philadelphia in free agency.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • The Sixers are willing to sacrifice draft capital and commit future money in order to chase a title next season, Fischer states. If Philadelphia is unable to land an impact player this offseason, the team will likely focus on shorter-term commitments with little to no guaranteed money beyond this season in order to retain flexibility for when another star becomes available. Sources tell Yahoo Sports that the 76ers “took note” of the two-year, $45MM deal the Pacers completed with Bruce Brown last summer, which was only guaranteed for one year and was ultimately used to accommodate the Siakam trade. Warriors swingman Thompson and Nuggets wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would be among Philadelphia’s potential free agent targets for similar one-plus-one deals, Fischer reports.
  • The Sixers would be one of the potential suitors for Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell if he’s made available this offseason, but Cleveland has expressed confidence about extending Mitchell, according to Fischer, who says that firing J.B. Bickerstaff is widely viewed as a move toward the team keeping Mitchell long-term.
  • Discussing other possible Sixers trade or free agency targets, Fischer says there’s been no indication from league personnel that LeBron James is seriously considering leaving the Lakers. League executives also believe that Jimmy Butler – who may be the player Morey tried to acquire most often in Houston – will stay with the Heat, Fischer continues. Bulls guard Zach LaVine is another possibility for Philadelphia, but likely only if Chicago or another team is willing to attach draft assets to dump salary, Fischer adds.
  • Kyle Kuzma is expected to be back on the trade block this summer, Fischer writes, though he cautions that the Wizards‘ asking price at this year’s trade deadline was too high for most interested suitors.
  • While rival executives around the NBA have praised the Celtics and Timberwolves for the rosters they’ve built, many of those execs also believe that tax apron concerns could result in those teams being unable to keep all their core pieces over the long term, per Fischer.

2023/24 All-NBA Teams Announced

The All-NBA teams have been announced for the 2023/24 season (Twitter link).

A total of 99 media members voted on the honors, with players receiving five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote and one point for a Third Team vote. This year’s All-NBA teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Third Team

Gilgeous-Alexander and Jokic were the only two unanimous First Team selections, receiving 99 of 99 possible votes. Doncic earned 98 First Team votes but was named to the Second Team on one ballot. Antetokounmpo (88), Tatum (65), Brunson (37), Edwards (3), and Durant (2) were the only other players to receive multiple First Team votes.

Others receiving votes and their point totals are the CelticsJaylen Brown (50), the ClippersPaul George (16), the SixersTyrese Maxey (16), the TimberwolvesRudy Gobert (12), the SpursVictor Wembanyama (11), the PelicansZion Williamson (11), the Magic’s Paolo Banchero (10), the KingsDe’Aaron Fox (9) the Heat’s Bam Adebayo (7) and the BullsDeMar DeRozan (1).

This is the first season that a minimum number of games was required to qualify for most postseason awards under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Among the stars who might have received All-NBA consideration if they had reached the 65-game threshold are Sixers center Joel Embiid, who was the 2023 MVP, along with Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Knicks forward Julius Randle and Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis.

This was also the first season that voting for the All-NBA team was positionless, though that didn’t have a huge impact on the results, as the top two teams still feature two guards, a pair of forwards, and a center. The Third Team is made up a center, three guards, and just one forward.

Wembanyama, who received two votes for the Second Team and five for the Third Team, was the only rookie named on any of the ballots. Earlier this week, he became the first rookie to earn a spot on an All-Defensive First Team.

The Lakers with Davis and James and the Suns with Durant and Booker were the only teams to have multiple players honored. They were both eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Several players became eligible for salary increases or earned a bonus by achieving All-NBA honors. Read more here.

Sixers’ Morey Vows To Shake Up Roster In “Big” Offseason

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey confirmed during a Monday press conference that he’ll be busy reworking his roster this summer, Dan Gelston of The Associated Press reports.

“We’re not going to have continuity,” Morey said. “We’ll have continuity with our stars and our head coach but we’re going to have a lot of changes this season.”

Morey feels the heat to build a championship roster around his two stars.

This offseason’s a big one,” Morey said. “I owe it to the fans, to ownership, to everybody, to get this team in a place where we’re competing for championships. We obviously didn’t achieve it this year.”

Joel Embiid is the only two player with a guaranteed contract beyond this season. Tyrese Maxey will be a restricted free agent and is expected to sign a maximum-salary contract.

Beyond that, everything is up for grabs. Morey could have $65MM in cap space to wheel and deal, along with signing free agents. He’s not against signing an aging star, such as Paul George, if one becomes available in the free agent market.

“You have to factor in the age,” Morey said. “We feel like we’re in the window where we have to win now. We’re mostly focused on getting the best players that fit with Joel and Tyrese.”

Morey has some regrets regarding this season, namely that he didn’t have a deep enough roster. The Sixers slid down the standings when Embiid was sidelined for two months after undergoing knee surgery. He wasn’t close to 100% in the postseason when Philadelphia lost to New York in the opening round.

“It can’t be a big focus, how we play without him. We know that team can’t win a championship,” Morey said. “It’s really, how do we manage through it better? I felt like, on me, the depth wasn’t quite there when he was out to win at the level we wanted to win at.”

Here are some other notable tidbits from Morey’s press conference:

  • His top priority is to find a wing “who can play and deliver at a high level in the playoffs,” Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets.
  • Coach Nick Nurse will be retained. Reserves Paul Reed and Ricky Council IV are also expected to be back, even though their salaries are not guaranteed, Vorkunov adds.
  • Though he hasn’t ruled out re-signing Buddy Hield, who was acquired from Indiana at the trade deadline, Morey admitted that “the fit was less good than I thought,” per Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports (Twitter link). Hield played sparingly in the first round until Game 6, when he scored 20 points in 21 minutes.
  • Maxey’s performances during the regular season and playoffs proved to Morey that he can be the second-best player on a title team, Vorkunov relays in another tweet. “That belief went from high to we’re certain at this point that he can do that,” he said.

Sixers Rumors: Maxey, Reed, Offseason Targets, Harris, Hield, Oubre

While the Sixers are disappointed by how quickly their playoff run ended this spring, there are reasons for optimism going forward. For one, guard Tyrese Maxey showed this season that he’s an impact player capable of becoming a legitimate second star alongside center Joel Embiid, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“He was amazing this year,” Embiid said of his teammate, per Mizell. “One of the 10 best players in the world this year. … He’s gotten so much better. I think there’s another step he can even take.”

Maxey will be a restricted free agent this summer, but that’s just a technicality — he will count against the Sixers’ cap for just $13MM until he signs his new contract. After using up their cap room, the 76ers will be able to go over the cap to lock him up to a maximum-salary deal that projects to be worth at least $35MM in 2024/25 — or up to $42.3MM if Maxey makes an All-NBA team.

Because the Sixers didn’t win a playoff series, Paul Reed‘s $7.7MM salary for ’24/25 will remain non-guaranteed, which means the club could potentially enter free agency with only Embiid’s salary ($51.4MM) and Maxey’s $13MM cap hold counting toward team salary. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), Philadelphia could have up to $64.9MM in cap room with just those two players on the books. That number would be closer to $55MM if the 76ers retain Reed and their first-round pick.

What might the Sixers do what that cap room? Sources tell Bontemps that Jrue Holiday was a top target until he signed an extension in Boston. OG Anunoby is also on their wish list, per Bontemps, though he’s considered likely to re-sign with the Knicks. Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up (Twitter video link), Brian Windhorst identified Paul George as Philadelphia’s No. 1 priority and said he thinks the team will make George a maximum-salary offer, assuming he hasn’t re-upped with the Clippers before free agency.

If no top-tier free agents are available, Daryl Morey and the Sixers figure to turn to their trade market, since they’ll have several first-round picks available to move and won’t have to send out matching salary. Windhorst mentions Heat swingman Jimmy Butler and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram as a pair of possible trade targets for the Sixers.

On the other hand, it’s not necessarily a star-or-bust summer for Philadelphia, according to Bontemps, who says one other potential path for the club would be to pursue a series of role players who complement Embiid and Maxey, like the Nuggets have done around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. In that scenario, the Sixers could explore re-signing a few of their own free agents, such as Kelly Oubre, De’Anthony Melton, Nicolas Batum, and/or Kyle Lowry. League sources expect Tobias Harris to be playing elsewhere next season though, per Bontemps.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • A reunion with Butler feels like a long shot, but David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the former Sixer is exactly the kind of “alpha” the team needs to complement Embiid and Maxey. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link) suggests that he can’t imagine the Heat accepting a trade package heavy on draft assets for Butler unless they planned to flip those assets for another star.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) and Mark Deeks of HoopsHype shared their Sixers offseason previews, taking a closer look at the decisions facing the franchise.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Buddy Hield, who will be an unrestricted free agent, said that he would like to return to Philadelphia, tweets Mizell. Hield scored 20 points in 21 minutes in Game 6 on Thursday but had only scored two points and had a pair of DNP-CDs in the five playoff games before that.
  • Oubre also expressed interest in re-signing with the Sixers, suggesting that he feels like he has “unfinished business” after the first-round loss. “I just wanna be loved,” Oubre said of his priorities in free agency, according to Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “I don’t know about the business side of it. I mean, I do, but I can’t tell you what I know because I represent myself right now. At the end of the day, I wanna go somewhere where they respect and they love me. It’s been nothing but love here, of course.”
  • Taking a bigger-picture view, Danny Chau of The Ringer considers what another early playoff exit means for Embiid and his legacy.

Knicks Notes: Maxey, Blown Call, Hart, Bogdanovic, Mitchell, McBride

While much of the focus in the first round series between the Knicks and Sixers was how New York could keep Joel Embiid under control, Tyrese Maxey has become a bigger problem, Stefan Bondy of the New York Post notes.

Maxey has scored more points and dished out more assists than Embiid while shooting 50% from the field. The Knicks have tried to slow down Maxey with a combination of OG Anunoby, Miles McBride and Josh Hart but nothing has worked. They’ll be looking for answers tonight in Philadelphia when the Knicks try once again to close out the series in Game 6.

“They’re really trying to pressure me so that’s where I try to use myself as a decoy. …Tyrese is going to come and make a wide-open layup or shoot it or be able to drive,” Embiid said.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • New York could have already been preparing for the second round if the officials had made the right call in the final minute of regulation in Game 5. Maxey’s pivotal four-point play shouldn’t have counted because he traveled on the play, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minutes report, Bondy relays. “Maxey gathers the ball on his left foot, takes two legal steps, and then moves his right foot again just before he is fouled on his shot,” the NBA determined in its report.
  • Hart, who has led the league in total minutes since February, says it’s not big deal for him to shoulder a heavy workload — in fact, he believes his significant playing time during the season helped prepare him for the playoffs. “It’s always funny because you see especially now during the playoffs, everybody is playing 40 minutes. Some people can’t do it,” Hart told Bondy. “Some people go from 34 to 41 and they don’t have the energy. It’s something we’ve had to deal with throughout the whole season.” Hart went the distance in the overtime loss on Tuesday, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes, logging all 53 minutes.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic underwent left foot surgery on Wednesday, Ian Begley of SNY TV tweets. Bogdanovic, who is also expected to need wrist surgery, will be reevaluated in three months to determine the progress of his foot procedure. The Knicks have a decision to make regarding Bogdanovic this offseason. His $19MM contract is only guaranteed for $2MM.
  • Mitchell Robinson is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game due to an ankle sprain, The Athletic’s Fred Katz tweets. Robinson played 25 minutes in Game 5 after missing Game 3.
  • McBride is embracing the steady playing time he’s receiving in the series, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. He’s averaging 13 points in 26.2 minutes in the five games. “I’m just glad I’m getting the opportunity, and able to show other people what I’m capable of,” McBride said.

Sixers Notes: Maxey, Embiid, Nurse, Harris

After winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award for 2023/24 last week, Tyrese Maxey capped a memorable April with the biggest game of his four-year NBA career on Tuesday. The star guard scored 46 points in 52 minutes, including seven in the final 30 seconds of regulation to force the game into overtime, leading the Sixers to a Game 5 victory that kept their season alive.

“What was going through my mind was trying to survive,” Maxey said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Our season is on the line. I trust my work. I trust what I’ve done all my life, and I just tried to get to a spot, raise up and knock that shot down.”

The Sixers’ other star, Joel Embiid, had a triple-double in Tuesday’s victory, racking up 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. But Embiid, who is dealing with a sore knee, a case of Bell’s palsy, and a migraine that forced him to miss Tuesday morning’s shootaround, clearly wasn’t operating at full strength and made just 7-of-19 shots from the field. Last season’s MVP said after the game that he appreciated Maxey coming through when the club needed him most.

“Tonight, obviously based on the circumstances and knowing what was needed, based on what was happening and me not being able to be myself, he just had to do it,” Embiid said, per Bontemps. “And he did it. That’s why he is such an amazing basketball player.”

Here’s more on the Sixers, who now trail the Knicks 3-2 in their first-round series:

  • Embiid has become public enemy number one among Knicks fans during the first round, especially following a physical Game 3 performance in which he was accused of committing a “dirty” foul on opposing center Mitchell Robinson. However, the Sixers star had nothing but praise for the New York faithful after being on the receiving end of their vitriol in Game 5, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “It’s not hostile. I love New York. New York is my favorite city in the world. I have a place here for the past five years. I just love New York,” Embiid said. “And then the (Knicks) fans, when you play against a team they’re always gonna pick that guy. And they seem to have picked me, which is fine. I love it. If I gotta be the punching bag and keep hearing a lot of ‘F Embiid,’ that’s ok. I love it.”
  • Nick Nurse become the second NBA head coach to suffer an injury during the postseason, though it doesn’t sound as if his issue is as serious as Chris Finch‘s patellar tendon tear, which required surgery. As Ian Begley of tweets, Nurse injured a finger during Tuesday’s game when he slammed his hand in frustration over a call. It’s unclear if he broke or sprained the finger, but the 76ers’ coach couldn’t grip a marker to draw up plays during the second half, Begley adds.
  • Prior to Tuesday’s game, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer suggested that it might be a good idea to bring struggling forward Tobias Harris off the bench after he scored no more than 10 points in any of the series’ first four games. However, Nurse stuck with Harris in the starting five and the veteran rewarded his faith in Game 5, Pompey notes, scoring 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Harris was a +11 in 49 minutes of action. “Coach drew up some opportunities for me early on to get me going,” Harris said. “And I think that was just big for myself and overall, and just getting into a rhythm and getting into a flow out there.”

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Hart, Embiid, Robinson, Porzingis

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson broke Bernard King‘s franchise record on Sunday with 47 points in New York’s Game 4 win over the Sixers. Brunson didn’t shoot well in the first two games of the series but has averaged 43 points and 11.5 assists in the last two games.

“You expect him to make every shot. He’s a great player,” Knicks forward OG Anunoby said. “Even when he was cold the first couple of games, you knew he was going to turn it around. Just ’cause we see him every day. It was going to turn around eventually.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Josh Hart didn’t have a field goal in the Knicks’ victory but he made his presence felt in many other areas. He grabbed 17 rebounds, dished out five assists and blocked three shots, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes. “I mean, I had to do something,” Hart said. “I had five turnovers, didn’t make a shot, didn’t hit any free throws, missed two free throws late that were big. So offensively it just wasn’t there today. But when you have that, you have to try to figure out ways to still make an impact in the game. And for me that was rebounding and pushing. Offensive rebound, trying to get extra possessions. Looked athletic on a couple of blocks, so that was nice.”
  • Sixers star Joel Embiid called out Philadelphia’s home crowd after the loss, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter links). The arena had plenty of fans rooting for the visitors. “Obviously you got a lot of Knicks fans and they’re down the road and I’ve never seen it and I’ve been here for 10 years. Yeah, it kind of pisses me off, especially because Philly is considered a sports town,” he said. “They’ve always shown up and I don’t think that should happen. Yeah. It’s not okay.”
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson sat out Game 4 due to an ankle injury suffered in the previous game. Robinson warmed up prior to the contest but couldn’t go. Afterward, he was spotted leaving the locker room in a walking boot, Katz tweets.
  • Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis has scored 18 points in each of the team’s first-round victories over Miami. He was held to six points in Boston’s Game 2 loss. Getting Porzingis involved in the offense is crucial, Jayson Tatum told Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “He’s probably our most important guy on our team for what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “So no doubt in my mind, I knew he was going to have a better game and bounce back.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Oubre, Hield, Payne

The toughness that Joel Embiid displayed in Game 3 will have to continue for the Sixers to have any chance to win their series with New York, writes Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Despite dealing with the pain of a surgically repaired left knee and the difficulties brought on by a mild case of Bell’s palsy, Embiid set a career playoff high with 50 points in Thursday’s crucial victory.

With two days to rest before the series resumes Sunday, Embiid is embracing the challenges of playoff basketball, no matter what physical ailments he has to overcome.

“I want to play as much as possible. I only have about, maybe, eight years left. So I have to enjoy this as much as possible and I want to win,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep pushing. I’m not going to quit. If it’s on one leg, I’m still going to go out there and try, but that’s not an excuse. Got to keep playing better, and better, and better.”

After Game 3, Embiid called the Bell’s palsy “an unfortunate situation” and told reporters, including Tim Bontemps of ESPN, that it started with migraine headaches shortly before Philadelphia’s play-in game last week. He explained that the condition sometimes causes blurred vision, and he frequently has to put drops in left eye to keep it from drying out.

“It’s pretty annoying, you know, with the left side of my face, my mouth and my eye. So yeah, it’s been tough,” Embiid said. “But I’m not a quitter, so gotta keep fighting. But yeah, it’s unfortunate. That’s the way I look at it. But it’s not an excuse. Gotta keep pushing.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Kelly Oubre responded to the Knickscomplaints about officiating after Game 3, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. In addition to a free throw disparity, New York players were upset about a Flagrant 1 foul that Embiid committed when he grabbed Mitchell Robinson‘s leg, with Donte DiVincenzo calling it a “dirty play.” Oubre said he has been on the receiving end of that type of contact and doesn’t consider it dirty. He also called for a focus on basketball instead of threats of retaliation. “It’s like, let’s just hoop,” Oubre said at today’s practice. “Let’s go out there and play hard and nobody’s gonna fight. This ain’t WWE. So at the end of the day, stand on the stuff that’ll say so we’ll see tomorrow how they react.”
  • Philadelphia police are conducting an internal investigation into whether Oubre received preferential treatment following his auto accident early Tuesday morning, tweets Michael J. Babcock of TMZ Sports. Oubre, who is accused of running a red light and hitting another car, wasn’t cited or given a sobriety test or breathalyzer.
  • Buddy Hield played just four minutes in Game 3 and appears to have been replaced in the rotation by Cameron Payne, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Hield didn’t get off the bench after the first quarter, while Payne contributed 11 points and three assists in nearly 16 minutes. Hield has been a disappointment since being acquired from Indiana at the deadline, and Pompey suggests the Sixers would probably rather have Marcus Morris, who was shipped to San Antonio in the three-team trade.