We got used to seeing Joel Embiid with a smile on his face during press conferences. After last night’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal, the Process was near tears.
When Kawhi Leonard’s shot went in after one long dance on the rim, the centerpiece of 76ers lineup started crying.
While explaining how he felt in those moments, Embiid’s voice was shaky. The emotions were just too much for him to handle.
“Last shot. After a hard-fought game, I feel like we had a chance. A lot of things go through your mind. And it sucks. I don’t know. I can’t explain it. It just sucks.”
The Process didn’t play this series the way he announced. There were a lot of big statements, which even mentioned “going all the way” and similar stuff.
With 17.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, along with 36.3 percent from the field, you really can’t win anything. The Raptors stiffed Embiid and made him inferior on both sides of the court. Apart from the occasional shines, Philly’s center couldn’t do anything notable in this series.
Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka made him work hard for every single basket he had made, and eventually, all that combined with the fragile health condition this big fella struggles with, led up to here.
But this might be a good thing for him, to clam down a little bit and to become more realistic. To start taking care of his body and be more responsible.
Right now the Philly is stagnating. For the second year in a row, they suffered elimination in the conference semifinals. But the big difference is that now they had two All-Star players more, when compared to the previous campaign. And yet there was no progress.
According to Ben Simmons, it is because this crew didn’t have enough time to develop chemistry which could exploit 100% of its potential.
“We haven’t been together for a while with this group,” Simmons said. “There is a lot of potentials.”
But whether will this group stay together now? Tobias Harris is a free agent, JJ Redick also. Jimmy Butler might be one, so that is a lot of questions for the 76ers board. Not to forget that Boban Marjanovic is also free after this season. The problems with the salary cap are yet to appear in a season or two when Simmons’ free agency comes. It i
The problem in the case of Philadelphia is that they set goals very high, especially Embiid with his reckless and often annoying comments. That also affected the fans who believed in his statements and expected a lot more from this crew.
Whoever followed this team on a daily basis could see that they struggle with a lot of issues. Starting with the egocentrism of Embiid, the arrival of Buttler and his fitting in, Simmons’ lack of will to improve his shot and work on himself, etc., all this is everyday life in Philly.
So the upcoming summer is of enormous importance for this generation of the 76ers. There will be tough decision-making. Brett Brown mentioned that after the game.
“Elton [Brand] will be great at this, and I’m sure a large portion of the challenge and the planning will be how do you grow the bench and hold on to as much of the starters as you can.”
But there are also voices which are suggesting, that Brown himself might be one of the subjects which could be removed from the equation. And his answer after Game 7 loss only increased speculation, because it didn’t remove the doubts.
“Stuff like that, we’ve talked internally a lot,” Brown said. “The club can respond to that.”
We just might see some new 76ers at the start of the next season, because changes are needed here. From a team which was destined to win championships, and had the biggest potential in the entire NBA, they’ve become a crew full of questionable players.
Can Embiid be healthy in the long run? Will Simmons learn how to shot free throws, is Jimmy Butler the leader or not. Is Brett Brown a championship type of coach?
So many questions, and yet no answers at all.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.