Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid says he has a great deal of respect for Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse.
That may be why Embiid told Nurse to stop whining as the 76ers took a 2-0 series lead over the Raptors in their first-round playoff series.
The 76ers were about to put the finishing touches on a 112-97 home win in Game 2 on Monday when Embiid neared the Raptors’ sideline to have a brief conversation with Nurse.
“He’s a great coach,” Embiid told reporters. “Obviously, he’s been able to accomplish [a lot] and always been a big fan.
“But I told him, respectfully, I told him to stop bitching about calls.”
Embiid was referring to Nurse’s complaints after Game 1 when the Raptors coach suggested, fairly loudly, that Embiid had gotten several favorable calls.
But Embiid insists he deserved every trip to the free throw line.
“If you’re going to triple-team somebody all game, they are bound to get to the free throw line. Or if you’re going to push them off and try to hold them and all that stuff, they’re bound and get to the free throw line,” Embiid said. “So I feel like every foul was legit and probably should have been more, honestly.”
When asked about Embiid’s fouls following Game 2, Nurse gave a tongue-in-cheek response.
“At least there wasn’t as many elbows thrown to the face tonight that we had to endure,” Nurse said.
He added that there wasn’t much to the late-game chat with Embiid. If there was, Nurse certainly took the high road in his response.
“He was saying to me that, ‘I’m going to keep making all the free throws if you keep fouling,'” Nurse said. “And I said, ‘Well, you might have to.’
“But a good player, man. I got a lot of respect for him. He’s certainly playing great here. There’s nothing there but us trying to compete against him and him trying to compete against us.”
No matter. Embiid indicated this is playoff basketball, and he isn’t going to change his physical, playoff-like approach as the series shifts to Toronto for Game 3.
“Referees and the league, they’re the same way,” Embiid said. “They’re gonna come in the next game, and they are gonna let stuff go. So, you know, they’re not going to call, you know, some fouls. So, in that case, you got to be more aggressive. You got to go to the rim with more power. You got to jump over people, you got to try to finish through contact. Because that’s an adjustment when it’s the refs coming in and [the Raptors are] complaining.
“I’ve been doing this for quite a while to know that’s usually the adjustment. [And] in that case, that’s where I’d become more physical.”
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