Raptors forward Pascal Siakam had a lot to say about Joel Embiid following his heroic performance in a season-saving Game 4 win over the 76ers.
Siakam, who scored a playoff career-high 34 points in a 110-102 win, told reporters he objected to Embiid’s actions during Saturday’s game. The MVP candidate seemed notoriously frustrated with Toronto’s officiating and physical defense throughout the contest, and won a technical foul after pushing Siakam while trying to take a timeout late in the fourth quarter.
“I am a competitor. I love to compete. These are the playoffs, the highest level. I don’t mind talking, I just don’t want those dirty plays,” Siakam said. According to TSN Sports’ Josh Lewenberg. “I do not like that. Keep it basketball… At the end of the day, it’s all fake toughness.”
In addition to seeing his team fail to secure a first-round sweep, Embiid’s frustration with the referees added to what was a rough night for the Sixers star. He finished the game with 21 points on 7-for-16 shooting and eight rebounds while committing four fouls and five turnovers. And, for the final act of All-Star night, Embiid gave the umpires a round of sarcastic applause as Philadelphia got up from the court.
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The referees’ treatment of Embiid has been a hot topic since the series began, with Raptors coach Nick Nurse openly criticizing the amount of physicality he felt the big man was getting away with. Embiid acknowledged Nurse’s criticism after Philly’s Game 3 victory, bluntly telling him to “stop complaining about the calls.”
Rather than air his own complaints to the media on Saturday, Embiid decided to take a bit of his own advice in explaining his actions. He then vowed to amplify the physical game as the series continues in an attempt to force the referees to make a decision.
“[The officials] You did a great job. I admire the work you did today. To me, it felt like they had a job here tonight, and they did. So congratulations to them,” Embiid said. “I guess next game, if they’re not going to call him, I’ll be even more aggressive offensively and defensively. If you want to call them fouls, or if you want to call fouls, you really have to earn them and be really physical.”
After keeping his season alive in front of his fans, Siakam and the Raptors will return to Philadelphia and look to avoid elimination in what is sure to be a physical Game 5 against Embiid’s 76ers on Monday night.
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