PHILADELPHIA—Joel Embiid threw down a thunderous dunk and whirled back down the court pretending to be an airplane, cupped his hand to his ear to hear the crowd’s adulation — like he was doing an Allen Iverson or Hulk Hogan imitation — and did a little shimmy dance at his bench as Philadelphia’s rout of the Raptors wound down Thursday night.
He punked Toronto, many thought. It was reminiscent of LeBron James casually twirling the ball in his hands before drilling an uncontested shot in the playoffs against Toronto, or James pretending to sip a fan’s beer during a stoppage in play in the same series. If the Raptors plan to use it as some kind of motivation for Sunday’s Game 4, coach Nick Nurse wasn’t saying on Friday.
“You get into personal battles or personal fights against one player or whatever, it takes away from what you’re trying to do as a team,” he said.
Embiid’s coach didn’t seem too upset, either.
“I think everybody understands Joel’s personality,” Brett Brown said. “He’s got a side of him that generates his own type of enthusiasm. I think he’s calculated. I think he’s probably more measured than other people might give him credit for.”
LOW BLOW: Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons was fined $20,000 U.S. and assessed an after-the-fact Flagrant 1 foul by the NBA for “making contact to the groin” of Toronto’s Kyle Lowry in Thursday’s Game 3. Simmons hit Lowry in the second quarter with no foul originally called on the play.
PASS AND FAIL: The Raptors passed up a handful of wide-open shots in pursuit of even more perfect possessions in their Game 3 loss and Nurse would rather see them be a bit more selfish at times. “I’m just smiling because usually it’s not enough passing. Now it’s over-passing. It’s always something, right?” Nurse joked Friday. “It’s making the reads and I don’t think we want guys like Kyle (Lowry), Danny (Green), Marc (Gasol) turning down opportunities, even if they think there’s a slightly better one on the other side. So again, it’s just the feel of stepping in and pulling the trigger, or if you’re absolutely sure the next pass is the right one, then make it.”
SUN RISER: At least one member of the Sixers has parlayed the team’s success into a more lucrative job. Assistant coach Monty Williams was hired away from Brett Brown’s staff to be the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns on Friday. Williams, one of the most respected assistants in the NBA and a former head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, got a five-year deal to replace the fired Igor Kokoskov with the Suns. “I think he’s going to be great,” Brown said of Williams on a conference call. Williams stepped away from coaching after his wife died in car accident in 2016, before joining the Sixers. “Anybody who pays attention even a little bit understands that he can lead people, one,” Brown said. “And I think that he is an emerging, relatively young coach that is incredibly relational. I think he’s prideful in studying how to be an NBA coach with all of the people he’s been around.”
Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps
Published at Fri, 03 May 2019 21:46:22 +0000