Joel Embiid takes a dribble, drives easily past Nene and dunks the ball with the authority.
This is what Embiid was essentially doing all night to the Houston Rockets last Friday. Embiid, drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014, dropped 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists in just 28 minutes against the Rockets on a huge ESPN showdown Friday night.
While the Sixers lost the contest 123-118, it wasn’t really about the Sixers losing, rather, it was about the dominate force Embiid displayed. Post-up moves, drives to the hoop, baby hooks, mid-range shots and three-point shots galore—actually—is what the game was about.
It was about the consistent dominance Embiid displayed throughout the night, matching Harden’s otherworldly performance. Let’s not forget Harden finished the game with 51 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists—a cosmic performance, which was an astounding triple double.
Still, with every shot Embiid made, and even, during times when the seven-footer sensed a slight momentum shift, he would encourage the crowd to cheer, and yes, he would hold his ear, signaling to the crowd he couldn’t hear them loud enough, which was a signature mannerism one Allen Iverson once did at his pinnacle in Philly.
This, in turn, dramatically gets the crowd involved, and from all accounts on Philadelphia sports talk radio and comments all over social media, this is what propels the crowd to the most important characteristic needed for a franchise seemingly running amok the past two decades: hope.
The entertaining mannerisms and the jubilance Embiid showcases on the court propels the crowd to loving the center, but, obviously, it’s his amazing production—not seen since Allen Iverson—that really draws Philadelphia fans’ interest.
Embiid is averaging a whopping 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in just 25 minutes per contest, which is a minute restriction the franchise has forced Embiid to follow in an effort to keep the future all-star healthy, especially after suffering several injuries over the last two years, a pitfall Embiid has, unfortunately, suffered. These injuries have kept Embiid from playing a single game of basketball, and the franchise is not about to lose Embiid over any hyperbole.
The dominance and the personality of Embiid have evolved into an all-out lovefest for the former Kansas Jayhawk at the halfway mark of the season, and with the no. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons returning after All-Star break, Sixers fans—especially with Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel and a slew of unproven draft picks—have a lot to look forward to.
The Sixers have the ball once again on offense. Embiid receives the pass from dead center just beyond the three-point line; he gets into his set-shot shooting motion, releases the ball, and the ball seemingly stays in the air for eons just before neatly and perfectly dropping in the iron hoop.
This, hoops fans, is Philadelphia basketball.
The Sixers—without Embiid on Sunday—lost against the Bulls. He also didn’t play against the Kings on Monday, and the Sixers won. Next up, the Sixers play the Mavericks.