Georges Niang was kind of in disbelief.

To his recollection, 76ers star Joel Embiid and Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam were friends. So Niang was shocked when he learned that Siakam accused his Cameroon countryman of playing dirty in the teams’ Eastern Conference opening-round series. But then he remembered this is playoff basketball.

“Nothing that I’ve seen has been dirty,” Niang said Monday. “This is a fight. This is a war. If you expected it to be touch fouls and stuff like that, then this isn’t the game for you.

“To hear that come out of him is actually surprising for me.”

» READ MORE: Joel Embiid fined $15,000 for criticizing officials after Sixers’ Game 4 loss to Toronto Raptors

But Siakam did call Embiid dirty Saturday following the Raptors’ Game 4 victory in a physical series.

The Sixers took a 3-1 advantage into Monday’s Game 5 at the Wells Fargo Center. A victory would mean the Sixers advance to the second round for the fourth time in five seasons.

There have been plenty of subplots in the series, but none has received more attention than the physical play.

After Game 1, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Embiid should have been called for more fouls. Perhaps putting out a reminder, Nurse doubled down before Game 2, saying he hoped refs would have “enough guts” to stop the game and review physical plays on Embiid. That ended with Embiid telling the coach to “stop [complaining] about calls” in the closing seconds of that game.

» READ MORE: Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet will miss Game 5 vs. Sixers with left hip flexor strain

But Embiid was the one complaining about the refs allowing physical play after Game 4. There were times when the Sixers felt the referees missed calls. Embiid gave golf claps to the officials as he exited the Scotiabank Arena floor following that game. In a later press conference, he said of the refs: “To me, it felt like they had one job coming in here tonight. And they got it done.”

Embiid was asked if he believed it was the officials’ job to extend the series to Game 5.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I really don’t know what I’m talking about, but you can figure it out.”

The NBA fined Embiid $15,000 for that criticism of officials. But while he was critical of the refs after Game 4, Siakam was critical of him. Embiid received a technical foul for ramming into the Raptors forward late into the game.

“I’m a competitor,” Siakam said. “I love competing. This is the playoffs, the highest level. I’m cool with the talking. I just don’t want those dirty plays. I don’t like that. Keep it basketball. … At the end of the day, it’s all fake toughness.”

The Raptors believe that Embiid has gotten away with being overaggressive all series. They’ve complained about him running over defenders who have beaten him to a spot, without offensive fouls being called. They also felt he was dishing out elbows.

» READ MORE: Sixers’ path to an NBA title just got harder with Joel Embiid’s torn thumb ligament

But the Sixers said the same about Siakam, who they think has been leading with his elbow all series.

“At the end of the day, this is playoff basketball,” Niang said. “It’s going to be physical. It’s going to be intense. Everybody wants a championship. So there’s not going to be any touch fouls. There’s not going to be any helping people up off the ground.

“This is what guys have worked the whole 82 games for. So nothing is going to be light or easy. And for him to say that I think that’s a little ridiculous.”