Joel Embiid Says “I Can’t Win Alone”, Throws Teammates Under The Bus After Game 7 Elimination | Does The MVP Need To Look In The Mirror?

The Philadelphia 76ers blew a 3-2 series lead against the Boston Celtics and were embarrassed in an ugly 112-88 Game 7 loss on Sunday. Following the game league MVP Joel Embiid said he needed to be better, but so did his teammates. Was he throwing them under the bus?

“[I need] to find a way to be a better basketball player … add to my game to find a way to be a better player. We have to keep finding ways to be better. … Me and James, we can’t win alone. That’s why basketball is played five-on-five. We need everybody to find ways to be better,” Embiid said.

Deflecting Blame

To be fair Embiid did talk about himself first, as he should. He was terrible in Game 7. Fifteen points, eight rebounds, two blocks and four turnovers on 5 of 18 from the field, including 0-for-4 from three.

Not the type of game one would expect from the MVP. He was locked up by the Celtics’ defense, led by Al Horford and Rob Williams.

But why only mention James Harden, who also had a subpar Game 7?

Tyrese Maxey and P.J. Tucker are why this was a three point game at halftime while Embiid and Harden were contributing nothing.

Winning in the postseason is hard. Teams need to be connected on both ends of the floor. The 76ers were too uneven in that respect and it cost them the series.

Embiid is starting to develop a pattern of poor playoff performances, particularly in the conference semis in crucial games.

He was the MVP this season, and nothing that happened in the playoffs should diminish that.

But he campaigned hard and played well enough to win the award and with that, unfair or not, comes serious expectations.

Embiid Did Not Lead In Game 7

Basketball is a team game, no doubt. You don’t win championships alone. But the team’s best player needs to lead. That doesn’t necessarily mean scoring the most points. But it means doing everything humanly possible to win the game.

Embiid did not lead in that respect on Sunday.

“We got an unfinished job,” Embiid said. “We haven’t won anything. And I think we got a chance. Obviously, going to seven games and having a chance to close it out at home, which we didn’t do [in the Game 6 loss]. So I still believe we got a chance to win. We got what it takes to win.”

He’s not wrong there. The 76ers do have a lot of what it takes to win, as evinced by being up 3-2 with a chance to close out the series at home in Game 6. But they lack the mental fortitude and maturity to close out a team in big moments.

“I agree 1,000 percent. To go down like that without feeling like you gave full fight. Two disappointing games to win the series,” Tucker told reporters. “It wasn’t enough. Just wasn’t enough. Whether physically tough, mentally tough, emotionally tough — it just wasn’t enough.”

Win or lose a Game 7, a team has to feel like they gave it their all. That a proud veteran like Tucker is saying it wasn’t enough is telling.

In Game 6, the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum was awful for 45 minutes or so. He missed everything. Then he made the three most important shots to win the game. In the interim while struggling he competed, fought and kept himself engaged.

Once the third-quarter run from the Celtics came in Game 7, Embiid was nowhere to be found. Shots not falling? Who cares. Get back on defense, get a steal, block, rebound, do something so the opponent feels you despite shots not falling.

He didn’t do that, and the 76ers were never a serious threat to win Game 7 and advance to the conference finals.

Back to top