While a lot of the criticism was legitimate, and Simmons did need to step up for his 76ers to have a chance at remaining in the playoffs, an argument can be made that it was a bit over the top.
"As a star player, you can never show weakness", says Charles Barkley, the Hall of Fame NBA forward and 1993 NBA MVP. With no actual update for the 76ers center, we're now unaware of Embiid's status for Game 5. The Milwaukee Bucks await the victor.
But he hasn't performed at anywhere near that level since Game 3, when he had 33 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks as the 76ers romped to a 21-point victory and a 2-1 lead. Guard Ben Simmons shot 3 for 5 and finished with just seven points.
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"It was incredible focus".
Stream live coverage of the 2018/19 NBA Playoffs & every game of The NBA Finals with ESPN on KAYO SPORTS. "We knew what was at stake".
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"Coming in, knowing that this was a do-or-die situation", Embiid said, "I knew that I had to come in with high spirits". If I got to play 45 minutes and push myself out there, that's what I got to do.
Here's what he and Shaquille O'Neal said about Embiid on last night's "Inside the NBA". Embiid, who gingerly walked into the postgame news conference with his left knee packaged in ice, had 17 points and 12 rebounds in 35 minutes.
"I mean it's annoying, it's stupid", Embiid said after Thursday's game. It doesn't matter if it takes the whole game, and I'm fine with it. "Sometimes I shoot it when I'm not open".
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It is unclear how interested Kidd is in this type of assistant coaching role with an emphasis on player development. Cleveland advanced to the Finals on three occasions and captured the 2016 championship with Lue on the sidelines.
And then on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center, Embiid was a world-destroying super-villain, scoring baskets and collecting fouls inside the paint, draining shots from beyond the three-point line, and punctuating the Sixers' Game 3 win with a mix of blocks, dunks and taunts that sent the Philly fans into bedlam. As Sixers' Head Coach Brett Brown checked his phone roughly around 6:20 am eastern time, he read a text message from Embiid, that contained some doubt about his availability on Sunday afternoon. "The mood in the locker room, you could sense the serious side". "Thought I'd try to play, try to get the win".