As the closing seconds of the 76ers’ 112-97 Game 2 dub over the Raptors ticked off the game clock, MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid and Nick Nurse, the Toronto Raptors head coach, were engaged in some jaw jacking. Although no animosity was apparent, the two adversaries weren’t necessarily friendly either.
Nick Nurse and Joel Embiid were talking trash to each other last night 👀. Playoff basketball gotta love it 👏 pic.twitter.com/3uIyoG0ikc— hoopsallin (@hoopsallin_) April 19, 2022
The conversation seemed to happen based on the disparity of free throws between the adversaries. The Sixers shot 30 free throws while the Raptors shot 12. Embiid (31 points and 11 rebounds) himself knocked down 12-14 of his freebies, James Harden (14 points, six rebounds, and six assists) went 7-8, while the Raptors were led by Pascal Siakam (20 points and 10 rebounds) seven free throw attempts.
When asked about the exchange with Nurse, Embiid showed his gamesmanship but kept it somewhat respectful.
“He’s a great coach,” Embiid said of Nurse. “Obviously, what he’s been able to accomplish, and [I’ve] always been a big fan. But, I told him, respectfully, I told him to stop bitching about calls because I saw what he said last game.”
Embiid firing back at Nurse stems from what the head coach of Toronto said after the Sixers’ Game 1 win. Nurse felt that Embiid was benefiting from some calls and non-calls.
“I don’t care if you’re 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds; if you beat him to the spot and he runs you over, it’s a foul,” Nurse said of Embiid on Saturday night. “I thought he threw three or four elbows to the face. He got called for one. We’re going to stand in there. — If we’re legal defensively, then we gotta have them call it, or we don’t have a chance. Period. Nobody can guard that guy if they’re just gonna let him run you over time and time again. We’re gonna stand in there, and we’ll see.”
Over the two games the 76ers and Raptors played, Embiid has shot 25 free throws. The Raptors don’t have another big man with similar size and strength to compete down low with Embiid. As the leader of the Raptors, Nurse, and any other coach in the playoffs, will always attempt to lobby with the refs to watch for specific calls or for the zebras to be wary of certain moves and situations.
“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 to get to the free-throw line,” Embiid said after Game 2. “So I feel like every foul was legit and probably [there] should have been more, honestly.”
The series shifts back to Toronto for Game 3 and 4 on Wednesday.