PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers were able to squeak out a 104-101 win over the Atlanta Hawks at home on Monday as Joel Embiid returned to the lineup. The big fella had 30 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists on the night, but the biggest play he made was on the defensive end.
With the Sixers leading by one with 18.6 seconds left, the Hawks went to their bread and butter on the offensive end. They turned to Trae Young and Clint Capela running the pick-and-roll and they were hoping to get an easy lob out of it.
Young threw the lob to Capela, but Embiid was there to break up the lob with a steal and that sealed a Sixers win at home.
“In that situation, from the start of the play, you could tell he thought we were going to trap him,” explained Embiid. “They were gonna try to set a screen for him to try to get me on him and we were guarding 1 through 5 anyway, so I would have to guard him straight up anyways, but the way I positioned myself, I acted like we were going to trap him and tried to take the ball out of his hands.”
Embiid then went into detail about how he baited Young to throw that pass. He played the lob a bit differently and that allowed Capela to get open, but then Embiid jumped the passing lane to make the play.
“As the best player on the team, you want the last shot and you want to be able to make the last plays to make sure that your team wins,” Embiid added. “In that situation, that’s why he ended up sending whoever I was guarding away and try to go one-on-one and I just tried to play a cat-and-mouse game where I had him thinking that he had a wide-open lob, while at the same time, I knew I was giving that space for a reason.”
Embiid is a student of the game as he watched a ton of players around the league do what they do and on Monday, his basketball studies paid off.
“I watch a lot of games,” he explained. “He’s (Young) not selfish. He can make that type of play if someone is open so I was just trying to bait him and it did work and in some instances, it doesn’t work. It could have been a bad play or a bad read by me, but in that situation, it did work so I was happy.”
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