Golliver On Sixers' Woes: "It Starts With Embiid"

The greatest ability is availability, Ben Golliver says, and Joel Embiid's game has been absent for much of the Toronto series

Reiter Than You
May 08, 2019 - 8:24 pm

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The Philadelphia 76ers laid the biggest of eggs in Game 5 against Toronto on Tuesday, losing 125-89. The Sixers were outscored 70-36 in the second and fourth quarters and are now one loss from postseason elimination.

What’s wrong with Philly?

“It starts with Joel Embiid,” Ben Golliver said on Reiter Than You. “I think some of the criticism he was getting for the sickness was going too far. It’s really weird that he’s had three different illnesses here in the postseason, not to mention the knee issues he had in the first round. To me, I always say the greatest ability is availability, and he has just not been available in terms of the All-Star, All-NBA form that they expect.”

Embiid was invisible in the last two games. He scored 24 points combined in Games 3-4, this after scoring 33 points in Game 3 alone. 

Embiid has been under the weather and received considerable criticism for it – some of which, Golliver said, was “over the line.”

“Look, we’ve all been sick before,” Golliver said. “It would not be fun to try to get up and block Kawhi Leonard dunking when you’re feeling under the weather, so I give him a little bit of a pass there. But he is so important to what they do, and this Raptors team is pretty darn good. You can’t just have your best player playing at less than 100 percent and expect to keep up with them. I think that’s sort of where it starts.”

But definitely not where it ends.

“If you’re looking for other fall guys, there’s no question Ben Simmons has been eliminated sort of the way that everybody expected he would be in the postseason,” Golliver said. “The lack of evolution of his game in terms of what he can do in the half-court has been a huge problem for them.”

Simmons is averaging just 9.4 points this series and hasn’t attempted a single three-pointer the entire postseason.

“I think if it comes down to Jimmy Butler versus Kawhi Leonard and who can will their team to victory, you got to take Kawhi Leonard and his team over Jimmy Butler,” Golliver said. “That’s no disrespect, but I think the relative strengths of their game are pretty clear. If they and up losing this series, everyone is going to be coming for Elton Brand. They’re going to be looking at the Tobias Harris trade – and may even be looking back at that Jimmy Butler trade given his contract situation – and just be wondering why did you hit the fast-forward button so quickly on this building effort? What was motivating your urgency? I think those criticisms would be very fair.”

Click below to listen to Golliver’s interview in its entirety.