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Hearing from all parties on Joel Embiid’s controversial sixth (non-)foul

Good to have some spiciness to liven up a regular season meeting in March

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

Meanwhile, Embiid himself felt the challenge rectified a wrong:

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.

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