Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Following a Game 1 victory to open the first-round of the playoffs, the Sixers opponent’s head coach is asking the NBA officials for more help in slowing down MVP finalist Joel Embiid.
While Embiid fielded questions hosting a very special guest, (his son) Nets coach Jacque Vaughn was lobbying officials for help ahead of Game 2.
Joel Embiid has a very special guest with him at the podium. pic.twitter.com/WyG4W2wjyL— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) April 15, 2023
According to Kristian Winfield of New York Daily News, Vaughn, who took over for Steve Nash in early November, said “hopefully they’ll be calling travel and three seconds on the big fella (Joel Embiid) next game. So I’ll be looking forward to that.”
Jacque Vaughn: "Hopefully they'll be calling travel and three seconds on the big fella (Joel Embiid) next game. So I'll be looking forward to that."— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) April 15, 2023
Embiid helped the Sixers win 121-101, leading the way for Philadelphia with 26 points, five boards, and three blocks. Nets star Mikal Bridges led all scorers with 30 points, though the Sixers did a good job slowing him down in the second half. The former Sixer had 23 points at the half, so they held him to seven the rest of the way, something Doc Rivers can certainly feel good about.
The Nets shot the lights out but just couldn’t slow down the Sixers.
The Nets had a 65.0 eFG%— Mike Lynch (@SportInfo247) April 15, 2023
That’s the highest in a loss in NBA Playoffs history per @Stathead https://t.co/y92wYmRiiF pic.twitter.com/GRaW2wJGuO
James Harden drilled 7-of-13 triples to finish with 23 points and 13 assists, controlling the tempo and keeping the ball moving.
If you’re having some deja vu you’re not alone. One year ago, the Toronto Raptors had no answer for a healthy Embiid.
So Toronto resorted to hacking Embiid a ton, successfuly tempting him into some scraps and double techs, and following Game 1 a year ago, Raps’ coach Nick Nurse complained about the officiating.
“[Embiid] probably threw three or four elbows to the face. He got called for one. Nobody can guard that guy if they’re just gonna let him run you over,” Nurse would complain. “I don’t care if you’re 5’11 and 160 pounds, if you beat him to the spot and he runs you over, it’s a foul.”
Following the Sixers Game 2 victory back in 2022, Embiid admitted he told Nurse to “respectfully stop b-tching” about calls.
During the game vs. Brooklyn, Joel had to contend with Nets players like Dorian Finney-Smith diving at his legs for loose balls and also getting away with a really hard and dangerous foul, waiting for Embiid to take flight before hitting the likely MVP in the face, sending him crashing to the floor after a dunk attempt - all without a called flagrant.
Joel Embiid went down hard after taking a hit from Dorian Finney-Smith on this dunk attempt. The refs reviewed it and called it a common foul.— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 15, 2023
Should this have been upgraded to a flagrant foul?pic.twitter.com/6Yqhtl7FCi
They even tempted Joel into double-techs after Royce O’Neal took a hard foul on Embiid’s left arm. It all felt very #Raptors, and as you know, Embiid left that series one year ago injured, sustaining a torn thumb, broken orbital bone, and a concussion.
So it’s hard to really feel bad for Vaughn here.
But you know he’s got to try something. Shooting the lights out and still losing by 20 points is as good of a reason as any to try some Phil Jackson tricks.