BROOKLYN — Joel Embiid had perhaps the best game of his playoff career on Saturday afternoon. After missing Game 3 of the Philadelphia 76ers’ opening round series against the Brooklyn Nets due to a knee injury, Embiid played like a man possessed in Philly’s Game 4 victory. Embiid went for 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, and six blocks in 31 minutes.
It’s the kind of performance everyone knows Embiid is capable of on his best days, and it turns out, Saturday was one of his best days. Those occasions also include bits of trolling out of the All-Star center at one point or another, and unsurprisingly that, too, turned out to be the case.
In the immediate aftermath of Philly’ 112-108 win to go up 3-1 in the series, Embiid called out Nets veteran Jared Dudley, who was tossed from the game in the third quarter for his role in a fracas that began with shoving the big man. Embiid made it a point to say on national television that he thought Dudley was a “nobody.”
Then, in his postgame press conference, Embiid was joined by Jimmy Butler, who was tossed in the midst of all the craziness for defending his teammate. Butler asked to join Embiid at the presser, saying he wanted to make sure “he don’t do nothing stupid when he up here, we all know he’s a trollin’ son of a gun, so I’m just here to protect my big fella.”
He went on to say he’d do that by making sure “if somebody run up on ’em, Imma push ’em again.”
A few moments later, Embiid was asked about the importance of going up 3-1 as the series shifts back to Philadelphia. For no discernible reason other than he’s Joel Embiid, he went out of his way to troll … the Golden State Warriors?
“It was really important because we wanted to get this one and go home and try to finish it,” Embiid said. “It feels great to be up 3-1. We definitely don’t want to be in a situation like the Warriors three years ago.”
Butler, in that moment, got up and left the room, saying, “That’s my f*ckin’ cue. I told y’all, I tried to save his ass.”
Embiid held court with the press for another four minutes or so following Butler leaving. The Sixers will hope they’re able to avoid the same fate as the Dubs squad that blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers by winning Game 5 in Philadelphia on Tuesday.