Any time two of the game’s more physical players are involved in a hard foul situation, there’s always the possibility that either could explode.
Thankfully, after Matt Barnes committed a flagrant foul on Zach Randolph during the fourth quarter of the Grizzlies’ Game 3 win over the Clippers, we saw exactly the opposite.
Barnes caught Randolph from behind in what was a hard foul, but shouldn’t have warranted the officials ruling it a flagrant. He did catch Randolph on the head, however, and Randolph’s immediate reaction to turn around and get right in Barnes’ face had everyone initially concerned.
Barnes didn’t move, presumably because he saw the non-threatening look in Randolph’s eyes.
Randolph gently head-butted Barnes, smiling the entire time, and hugged him around the back of the head, after reaching out for a handshake once he stepped away.
Clearly, Randolph not only thrives in a game where his opponents are overtly physical with him. As he showed with his interaction with Barnes, he respects and appreciates the effort.
This was never a hard limit. Embiid played more than 24 minutes in five of his 12 games with a high of 27 in an overtime contest. Presumably, the new “limit” will also allow for Embiid to sometimes it.
Embiid’s numbers per 36 minutes are eye-popping: 28.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 3.8 blocks and 6.4 turnovers. A small workload likely factors into his per-minute dominance, and he’s still a long way from typical starter minutes. But I’m interested to see how his production translates over a larger sample.
The 76ers, in their mission to be less bad this season, will also appreciate a few more minutes of Embiid. They defend like the NBA’s second-best defense with him on the floor and the league’s second-worst defense without him. They also score a little better with him. Overall, they get outscored by just 2.2 points per 100 possessions with him and a whopping 14.2 points per 100 possessions without him.
This could give Philadelphia a couple extra wins over the rest of the season. At minimum, it’ll make the 76ers more enjoyable to watch for a few more minutes each game.
James Johnson dunks on Rudy Gobert in crunch time (video)