One would assume that Joel Embiid is in a tough situation. However, the 76ers center disagrees.
The two-time All-Star is two flagrant fouls away from serving a one-game suspension in the playoffs, but Embiid doesn’t think he needs to be more careful to prevent that possibility.
“I’ve just got to play basketball,” he said after Monday’s practice. “If it happens, it happens. Like I said, I’m mature. I know what I am doing, although the last [flagrant foul 1], I don’t even know if it was a foul. I felt like I got all ball.”
Embiid wasn’t sure why the flagrant foul against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 wasn’t rescinded. He received his second flagrant 1 foul of the series when he knocked Jarrett Allen to court on a layup attempt on Saturday at the Barclays Center. Embiid forcefully swiped at the ball. He picked up his first flagrant 1 foul while elbowing Allen in the face in Game 2.
So Embiid has two flagrant-foul points in the postseason. If a player compiles four flagrant-foul points, he receives an automatic one-game suspension.
Embiid and the Sixers will look to close out their opening-round series against the Nets in Tuesday’s Game 5 at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers hold a commanding 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.
One would assume some opponents would try to agitate Embiid with the hope of luring him into picking up another flagrant foul. The All-Star center said he doesn’t care about that.
But one gets the sense coach Brett Brown does. “It’s the discipline that we have to have,” Brown said.
With his players, Brown candidly brought up his experience as a San Antonio Spurs assistant during the 2007 NBA playoffs. With 20 seconds left in Game 4, Spurs forward Robert Horry hip-checked Phoenix point guard Steve Nash into the scorer’s table at midcourt. Horry was ejected. The Suns held on to win, 104-98, to even the series.
Horry was suspended for the next two games, and Phoenix’s Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were also suspended a game for leaving the bench during the altercation.
The Spurs defeated the undermanned Suns in Game 5 and closed out the series in Game 6.
“We were beating them,” Brown said of the Suns. “I thought they were the NBA champions.”
Brown also remembered when LeBron James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers, stepped over Golden State’s Draymond Green late in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
Feeling disrespected, Green appeared to hit James below the belt. The two got in each other’s face while play continued and eventually had to be separated. At the time, Green was one flagrant foul away from an automatic suspension.
Golden State won that game, 108-97, to take a 3-1 series advantage. However, Green received a flagrant foul for his actions and missed Game 5. The Cavs went on to win Games 5, 6, and 7 to nab the NBA title.
“So it’s not holding your breath,” Brown said. "There are reminders that I owe my players as the coach to have them, you know, be adults, be big boys and navigate through this.