The Philadelphia 76ers were terrible in Game 5 against the Toronto Raptors. Joel Embiid, struggling with a litany of maladies, was bad too, scoring only 13 points and turning the ball over eight times. The big man slunk off the court before the final buzzer mercifully ended a 36-point drubbing and must be way better if the Sixers are to win Games 6 and 7.
Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley had some strong criticism for Embiid during the postgame show. The former talked about how a great player needs to battle through the excuses. The latter said Embiid’s body language is sucking the energy from his team and becoming a net-negative.
O’Neal is not optimistic Embiid and crew are going to get things together in order to face a winner-take-all situation.
It’s pretty easy to sympathize with the Sixers’ star. Last night he was working through a respiratory issue. Assorted other parts of his body are balky. It sure sounds like there’s been some lingering diarrhea.
But no one said being a star is fair. There’s a higher standard and falling short of it opens the floodgates of criticism.
One thing I’d say, though, is save some of the critiquing for Ben Simmons. He scored 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting last night, essentially taking himself out of the game. It’s extremely difficult to win when one of your primary ballhanders refuses to shoot.