Ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers-Toronto Raptors first-round series set to open on Saturday, Joel Embiid opened up with assembled media on what playing the Raptors is like, especially on the offensive side.
Joel Embiid on Toronto: “The way they defend me has never changed. They just play recklessly, sending 3 guys at me as soon as the ball is in the air. They made me better honestly, over the years, just playing against them and watching them. Definitely made me a better playmaker.”— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) April 14, 2022
Embiid, who just became the first center to win a scoring title since Shaquille O’Neal, has averaged 29.3 points against Toronto. However, the Raptors have proven to be a challenge for The Process. Of the 13 times, Embiid has 10 or fewer points in a game; five came against Toronto. The Raptors even held him to a zero-point outing in 2019.
“The way they defend me has never changed,” Embiid told the media, per Yahoo Sports. “They just play recklessly, sending three guys at me as soon as the ball is in the air.
“They made me better, honestly, over the years, just playing against them and watching them. Definitely made me a better playmaker.”
When the two met in the 2019 Eastern Conference semifinals, Coach Nick Nurse designed a defense that held Embiid to 17.3 points per game on 37 percent shooting from the field.
✅Joel Embiid the first 76ers player with 30+ points in 6 straight road games since Allen Iverson in 2006.— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 29, 2021
✅Tobias Harris notched his 1st career triple-double.
✅Georges Niang 19 points off the bench.
📹Game Highlights vs. Toronto Raptors | 12.28.21 pic.twitter.com/tiD2wfni0F
Embiid and the 76ers hope that the solution to the defensive gameplan Nurse designs will be the Kansas products’ improved playmaking and the improved play of James Harden, who they acquired at the deadline to take them over the top as a Finals threat. The 76ers went 14-7 with Harden in the lineup this season.