You saw this in the fourth quarter on Sunday night:

This was the portion of the quarter where Embiid wanted nothing to do with Al Horford, so he dumped the ball off to Tobias Harris instead, who airballed a 12-footer. P.J. Tucker grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled on the put back, had the exchange with Embiid, then hit the free throw to tie the game at 105.

Said Tucker after the game:

“Nobody can guard Joel one-on-one. There’s no way. I’m sorry, there’s no disrespect to Al (Horford) or anybody else. I’ve guarded him for a lot of years, and when he’s aggressive and assertive, it’s impossible. I saw him two or three plays in a row not do that, and we can’t have that. We can’t have that. Not with the season on the line. We can’t have that.”


Say what you will about fatigue and minutes. I’m sure Embiid was absolutely cooked at that point, playing heavy minutes coming off injury as Doc Rivers trimmed the rotation to eight players (more like seven really). But after Joel was stuffed by Horford the first time, he looked hesitant, and passed up a couple of opportunities at the end of the fourth quarter, only seemingly waking up and finding that second wind in overtime, when he scored four points and got the assist on James Harden’s game-winning shot.

Embiid explained what Tucker said to him on the court:

“In that fourth quarter I got stuck a lot of times, just relying on my jump shot, knowing that I had no lift. I was kind of gassed. But he just got on me about going back to myself and being aggressive. Overtime, it was a blessing that my teammates got me there. So I just wanted to be aggressive and make plays all over the place.”

Embiid looked much more like himself in OT. He knocked down a 15-footer and hit a couple of free throws, and also had the questionable offensive foul with Marcus Smart sliding over in the paint. The final sequence, of course, saw Embiid draw a double team and kick it out for an open Harden to knock down the game winner.