With 4:12 remaining in Philadelphia’s 118-109 win over Cleveland on Wednesday night, Joel Embiid was whistled for his sixth personal foul for pushing off Evan Mobley before rising up for the jumper.
Evan Mobley draws the sixth foul from Embiid pic.twitter.com/6CBDdLT88W— Tony Pesta (@Tony_Pesta) March 16, 2023
Doc Rivers opted to challenge the call, because you grasp at whatever thin straw you can when faced with the now-MVP favorite having to leave the game for good. However, even though Mobley appeared to have flopped, Embiid pretty clearly extended the arm. It looked like a clear offensive foul. Yet, for once, the basketball gods were smiling on the Process, and the call was overturned. Embiid was able to remain in the game and his jumper counted.
The most immediate ramification was those two points being added to the scoreboard, extending the Sixers’ lead to 110-101. Then, although Joel went 0-of-3 from the field the rest of the way, and played matador defense to ensure he didn’t foul out for a second and final time, we can’t know how his presence on the court changed those final four minutes.
In the pool report following the game, Crew Chief John Goble was asked why the officials reversed the foul call on Embiid:
“The contact by Embiid was determined to be marginal as he did not go through the space of Mobley.”
We’ll take it! One guy who won’t take it is Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who had been giving the refs an earful for the remainder of the game following the challenge. Here were his comments in the postgame press conference:
“Hell of a charge to get Embiid his sixth foul. He [Mobley] did a hell of a job. It’s clear as day that’s a charge. There’s no doubt about it. The call was made on the floor. He’s standing in-between him and the basket. He lowered the shoulder. I thought Evan competed, laid it all out on the line. Guys oughta be rewarded for that, you know what I mean. If you’re willing to stick your nose in there, sacrifice your body, you ought to be rewarded for the correct play.”
On the opposing sideline, Doc Rivers had to chuckle a bit at what some might perceive as good fortune.
Doc Rivers, joking: "I was 100 percent sure it was another great challenge."— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) March 16, 2023
Rivers said that he believed Evan Mobley flopped on Joel Embiid's sixth foul that got overturned.
#BrotherlyLove coach Doc Rivers on Joel Embiid having his 6th foul erased on a challenge late in 118-109 win at #LetEmKnow : “I thought (Evan Mobley) flopped. I called that one right away because I thought there was a good chance they would overturn it.” @cavs @sixers #NBA pic.twitter.com/GYXCw7ObFi— Brian Dulik (@BrianDulik) March 16, 2023
Meanwhile, Embiid himself felt the challenge rectified a wrong:
Joel Embiid on the overturn: "I think it was a good call. I never extended my arm and I never really put a lot of pressure into hitting him. And you could tell right before the hit, he was trying to flop and fall."— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) March 16, 2023
Joel Embiid: "I didn't think I had extended anything. I watch basketball every day. And based on the way, those are officiated — We got some guys that basically play like running backs in this league that get that call all the time — I was pretty confident."— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) March 16, 2023
I love you, Jo, but you extended the arm, my guy. I will agree that players get away with worse all the time, but for the offensive foul to have been called and then overturned remains very surprising to me.
Ultimately, we’ll accept the tides of fate flowing our way in some small manner for a change. comes our way for this oft-cursed franchise. Plus, even if Embiid had fouled out and the shot hadn’t counted, the Sixers were still up seven points with four minutes left. It’s not like the play single-handedly swung the game. With the two teams now done with all three of their regular season meetings, we would have to wait for a potential playoff meeting to have this issue resolved on the court.