Free-throw attempts in the 76ers’ 117-109 win over the Celtics yesterday:
- Joel Embiid: 21
- Boston Celtics: 20
“It’s tough. It is tough. Especially when we’ve got our hands up a lot of the times and he flails and gets the call,” Smart said. “And then down on the other end we’ve got our guys attacking the rim, getting a lot more contact and we’re just not getting the whistle. It’s tough to play like that. It’s tough. If the roles were reversed I’d do it every time. I mean, I’d be on too if every time I threw my arms up or every time I got touched I’m going to the free throw line.
“I mean, it’s kind of hard to get into a rhythm that way when you shoot 21 free throws alone and they allow you to hack on the other end. It’s tough, but we battled. The team did a good job. We were right there to give ourselves a win and try to run it back on Friday.”
“Marcus Smart just told me that I flail a lot? Come on,” Embiid said Wednesday. “I’m sure he knows himself and he knows his game, too. He does a lot of that.”
“And I don’t think I do (flail). If you watch basketball and if you’re a student of the game and if you actually pay attention during the game, we all see every single foul, I get fouled,” Embiid said. “They probably don’t call all of them — like the last one when there were three minutes left and I went up, that was a foul, and they knew it but they didn’t call it. So there’s a lot that they don’t call, and there’s a lot that they call because they have to.
“The game is physical. Other teams tend to try to be extra physical against me and I guess I’m just smarter than everybody else — I just take advantage of it. I just take advantage of how they’re guarding me. You can call that, I don’t know, basketball IQ. If you’re going to put your hand up there, I’m going to take advantage of it and I’m going to get to the free throw line, because I know that I’m a great free throw shooter and that’s a better chance for me to help the team win in those situations.”
Celtics centers Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson are too small to effectively defend Embiid when he’s aggressive inside, as he was last night. So, Boston’s bigs compensated with more physicality, which Embiid can more than give right back. Embiid – as he’s prone to do – also sometimes accentuated contact. It’s really hard to officiate a matchup when the baseline of physicality is so much higher than the norm. So, the Celtics also sometimes got away with contact.
Spread responsibility for the free-throw disparity among all those factors.