After the 76ers' 121-114 loss to the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, Joel Embiid once again aired his frustrations.
He told reporters that he did not feel he was put in the right situations in the fourth quarter and overtime and that he did not have the answer for his second-half play falling off from his first-half production.
“You’ve got to ask coach,” he said, shaking his head when asked why he thought the ball went elsewhere down the stretch.
After the crowd of reporters cleared, he added that if the Sixers had beaten the Celtics, he would not have said anything. It wouldn’t have mattered, because the team would have ended up with the right result.
But when the Sixers lose, Embiid immediately thinks about what more he could have done, and he always feels as though he has more to give.
“I know we have to get other people involved,” he said. “When we’re winning, I don’t have a problem with it, but when we’re losing, I feel it more, and it just feels like, because I know I can do more, especially in situations like tonight, when I was dominating the first three quarters, and then in the fourth quarter and overtime the game felt like it went away from me, and I don’t understand it.”
Embiid scored 30 points through the first three quarters, then just 4 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Embiid having monster first halves, then falling off in the last two quarters has been a recent trend.
He refuses to say that he gets tired. He isn’t willing to say that the bench should do more, no matter how inconsistent or thin the reserve unit is. Embiid believes that it’s his responsibility to carry the Sixers to victory every single night.
Embiid has voiced his concerns and frustrations with the coaches. He mentioned that he’s close with player-development coach Chris Babcock and communicates regularly with him about these things. But, as Embiid said, it’s only on his mind when the team loses, and, in those cases, it’s more frustration than anything.
“When we lose, and I feel like I’m not in the right situation, it just frustrates me,” he said. “I want to help the team win, that’s it.”
Embiid didn’t mention his three turnovers in the fourth quarter, and he wouldn’t credit the Celtics' defense, which largely ignored Ben Simmons on the outside to have a second defender available when Embiid got the ball.
As the Sixers' franchise center, Embiid feels a responsibility to be the guy who helps the team in crunch time. The reality is that the Sixers' non-shooting guards -- and the opposing defenses collapsing when games get close -- are probably more to blame than anything else when the game fades away from Embiid.
Add these problems to the growing list of concerns the Sixers will need to address to reach the elite level they are striving for. Until then, Embiid will complain when things go wrong and carry the weight of every Sixers' loss.