Another Monday without hoops.

We have just reached our 54th day since the NBA regular season was suspended March 11. But hey, it’s all about us remaining healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. So please remain safe, keep washing your hands, and practice social distancing. Leave it up to Inquirer.com to keep you updated on the 76ers.

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— Keith Pompey (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

Game 4 changed series dynamics

Folks remember the shot.

They’ll tell you that the Sixers’ 2019 NBA championship aspirations ended on Kawhi Leonard’s 15-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to lift the Toronto Raptors to a 92-90 victory in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series May 12 at the Scotiabank Arena.

They’re technically right.

But Tuesday is the one-year anniversary of when the series actually changed for the Sixers.

Philly had a 2-1 series advantage heading into the 3:30 p.m. Game 4 contest at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers went on to lose, 101-96. They blew a golden opportunity to put the Raptors on their heels by taking a commanding 3-1 lead.

Leonard was his usual dominating self, finishing with 39 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists in Game 4. He scored 45, 35, 33, and 39 points in the first four games of the series.

But the biggest memory from that game was Joel Embiid’s performance. The Sixers big man was sick following a night at a concert. The three-time All-Star center finished with 11 points on 2-for-7 shooting. He did have eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, two blocks, and went 7-for-10 from the foul line. But Embiid missed three consecutive free throws during a critical stretch of the fourth quarter.

All this came after Embiid texted coach Brett Brown at 6:20 a.m. that day to say, according to Brown, “he really never felt this poorly and he was unsure, coach, if I’m going to play.”

“I didn’t have a good night,” Embiid said after the game. “Didn’t sleep. Was throwing up. I needed an IV at 6 in the morning. I tried to play and tried to get the win. Obviously, it wasn’t enough.”

Embiid said he had a cold, a headache, and felt bad “everywhere,” but he didn’t want to use what ailed him as an excuse.

“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “Once I step on the court, I have to do a better job, no matter what the situation is.”

However, he drew criticism for going to the concert the night before an afternoon game. People questioned his commitment.

Embiid was indeed sick, though.

He actually went on to have one of his worst games of the season in Game 5 while battling an upper respiratory infection. Embiid was a total nonfactor after being cleared to play right before the game. He had 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting in the 125-89 loss.

The Sixers evened the series with a Game 6 victory before eventually being eliminated on Leonard’s game-winner in Game 7.

Serge Ibaka, left, of the Raptors pulls down a rebound in front of Joel Embiid of the Sixers during their NBA Eastern Conference Semifinal Playoff Game at the Wells Fargo Center on May 5, 2019.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Serge Ibaka, left, of the Raptors pulls down a rebound in front of Joel Embiid of the Sixers during their NBA Eastern Conference Semifinal Playoff Game at the Wells Fargo Center on May 5, 2019.

Starting Five

Thanks Mama

I’m assuming we’ve heard that saying “Mama knows best.”

Well, Michael Jordan knows that to be true. His mother, Deloris, talked him into meeting with Nike after he didn’t even want to get on a plane to meet with the sneaker company about an endorsement deal.

Jordan wanted to sign with Adidas instead of Nike, which specialized in track sneakers at the time. His agent David Faulk even called Nike an “upstart” company in 1984 during Sunday’s fifth episode of The Last Dance.

However, Adidas and Converse wouldn’t give Jordan his own shoe, as Nike was willing to do. The problem is Jordan wasn’t willing to get on the plane. So Faulk called Deloris.

“My mother said, ‘You’re going to go listen. You may not like it, but you’re going to go listen,’ ” Jordan said during that fifth episode of the 10-part documentary on Jordan’s career and the Bulls’ 1997-98 season. “She made me get on that plane and go listen.”

While there, Jordan got an offer he couldn’t refuse. Not only did he get his own signature shoe, “Air Jordan”, Nike gave him in the neighborhood of $250,000. That was more double what decorated star players were getting on shoe deals. That was a great deal for Jordan, who at the time was an unproven rookie.

The shoes also took off. Nike sold $126 million worth of Air Jordans in the first year. They were only hoping to sell $3 million worth by year four.

Jordan is worth over $2 billion despite making less than $90 million in NBA salary for his career. He’s made most of his money on the Jordan brand.

In this case, mama really knew best..

Michael Jordan's longtime relationship with Nike began reluctantly, and only when his mom, Deloris, center, intervened. At right his Jordan's father, James.
CHARLES BENNETT / AP
Michael Jordan's longtime relationship with Nike began reluctantly, and only when his mom, Deloris, center, intervened. At right his Jordan's father, James.

Passing the Rock

Question: Would [Shake] Milton and [Alec] Burks be sufficient depth at point guard?— @dashrinc on Twitter

Answer: What’s up? Thanks for the question. That’s to be determined. I don’t see Burks being a backup point guard. I see him coming in and providing instant offense. However, Milton has impressed me, thus far, at the one. However, I need to see more of him. That’s because teams are going to defend him differently the more tape they get on him. But he has been impressive at this point.