NBA

Joel Embiid highlights his defensive impact after Game 3 win

By Sports Desk May 07, 2022

Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid highlighted the fact that he does not need to be able to see perfectly to be a game-changer defensively, and declared he believes his team can win it all after pulling their series against the Miami Heat back to a 2-1 deficit.

Embiid struggled with his vision in his protective mask, but it was more than enough to help the 76ers to a 99-79 win in Game 3.

In his first game back after suffering a fractured orbital and a concussion as a result of a Pascal Siakam elbow in the last game of Philadelphia's series against the Toronto Raptors, he had 18 points and 11 rebounds, but transformed his side defensively.

It was the lowest total the 76ers have held an opponent to since beating the San Antonio Spurs 97-78 in January 2018.

Speaking to the post-game media, Embiid said it was a struggle to get ready for Game 3, but highlighted that he felt he did not need to be at 100 per cent to change the game defensively.

"It was a struggle," he said. "Really just because of the concussion, and dealing with a bunch of symptoms – but I'm glad it went away, and I'm glad I'm back.

"I didn't think I had a lot of energy, honestly. I was really trying to get through it, and just use my presence out there as a decoy. 

"I feel like what I pride myself on is defensively, and that's where my presence is really felt – on the defensive end. That's one of the main reasons I felt like I could have a huge impact.

"Just being to the ball even more, not allowing easy catches, and obviously being aggressive on their main scorers. 

"Tyler [Herro] – I thought we did a better job on him – obviously Jimmy [Butler] got going, and that's my fault, there were a couple times where I wasn't protecting the rim, so we definitely need to do a better job on him. 

"But their main scorers, we were just more aggressive, whether it was trapping the ball, or getting it out of their hands and trying to make everyone else beat us."

Touching on the first two games of the series where he did not make the trip to Miami, Embiid said it was tough to watch, but that he believes this Philly team can win the championship.

"It was very annoying – just watching," he said. "Obviously we didn't make shots, but we made a lot of mistakes, whether it was offensive rebounding, or turnovers. 

"Their big fella, Bam [Adebayo], he was dominating. I was really p****d off watching another big man play well against my team. 

"I think my main goal is that I really want to win, and I feel we have a big chance to win it all. 

"Obviously we have to stay healthy, and we all gotta play well at the same time – we all gotta be damn near perfect.

"So, to me, that's what I signed up for, and whatever it's going to take me to win, that's what I'm going to do."

The mask itself was a hindrance, according to the seven-foot-two Cameroonian, but he said it was not going to make a difference if he sat out one or two more games.

"I air-balled a wide open shot, so that's the answer [to the difficulty of playing in a mask]," he said.

"But it's whatever, it's just the circumstances. Four years ago I really complained about it, but it's a little different this year because I don't have to wear goggles – those were really annoying.

"It's still a big adjustment, but like I said, it really starts on defense, and on defense I don't need to see everything. On offense you need to see to knock down shots, but it's fine.

"These fractures are not going to heal for a couple weeks, so it's not going to change too much if I play now or Game 4, I just need to protect it as much as possible."

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