Ahead of Monday night’s game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers, things got a little spicy when an unlikely chef stirred the pot. In discussing defending Lakers star Anthony Davis, Sixers backup center Paul Reed called him a “big flopper.”
“He’s a big flopper, so make sure that I don’t get in foul trouble early. Can’t be too aggressive with him. You know, he’s gonna be flailing. So, gotta make sure that I stay out of foul trouble.” - Paul Reed on the keys to matching up with Anthony Davis pic.twitter.com/NzTXQsePix— Austin Krell (@NBAKrell) November 27, 2023
It was a strange connection, considering Joel Embiid would be the one getting the bulk of the Davis assignment. In fact, after the game, we saw that per NBA.com’s admittedly imprecise matchup data, Reed only ended up guarding Davis for fewer than three possessions, about the same as Patrick Beverley. Embiid and Robert Covington guarded Davis most often.
Still, the comments went against the general rule of thumb of ‘don’t give the opposition any bulletin board material’. We know the Lakers were aware of it prior to the game.
Darvin Ham on Paul Reed calling Anthony Davis a “big flopper” this morning: “He’s got to go guard him, I guess. … Best of luck, Paul”— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 27, 2023
During pre-game availability, Sixers head coach Nick Nurse jokingly(?) said he’s going to have to address the situation:
“That’s news to me, I’m gonna have to go talk with Paul about that immediately after this.”
As it turns out, though, the words would not haunt Reed in the least bit. The Sixers went on the steamroll Los Angeles, 138-94, the 44-point margin of defeat representing the worst loss in LeBron James’ storied multi-decade career. Anthony Davis was solid, but not spectacular, finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists, shooting 7-of-14 from the field and 3-of-5 from the foul line. He had one shot attempt absolutely obliterated by Embiid.
As I mentioned above, Reed barely guarded Davis during the game, but on one of the possessions, Davis was whistled for a travel. Meanwhile, Reed had himself another fine performance off the bench, scoring nine points in 17 minutes, while shooting 4-of-5 from the field, including his third three-pointer of the season.
After the game, however, Reed did not take a victory lap straight from the Pat Beverley school of podcasting. Asked whether he expected his comment to go viral:
“No, I didn’t expect that to go viral. I was just keeping it 50 times 2.”
What was his reaction to seeing it go viral?
“I must have said the wrong thing. I must have said something wrong. Next time, I’ll word it differently.”
How did it feel making another three?
“It felt good. I think I’m just gonna keep shooting ‘em. I’m gonna keep working on ‘em every day, keep working on ‘em, making sure that I focus in on my form. The work pays off, it’s all about the work, preparation.”
Even if he might have worded it differently, Reed does not lack for confidence going against really good players:
“I’m a competitor. I feel like I’m one of the better players on the court every time I step on the court. Coming from the work I put in every day — weight room, on the court, even off the court, studying film — all that goes into my confidence.”
Generally speaking, Reed keeping things ‘50 times 2’ is one of the reasons he has so endeared himself to the Sixers fan base. Whether you agree with Reed’s ‘flopper’ comment or not, as long as he keeps playing well and contributing to 44-point victories over historic rivals, the man can say what he wants.