'Stop b**ching': Joel Embiid explains brutal swipe at rival coach

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Sixers star Joel Embiid and Raptors coach Nick Nurse had some heated words during game two of the NBA playoffs series. Pic: NBA/TNT
Sixers star Joel Embiid and Raptors coach Nick Nurse had some heated words during game two of the NBA playoffs series. Pic: NBA/TNT

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has revealed what transpired between himself and Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse during a fiery exchange in game two of the NBA playoffs.

Embiid was at his commanding best, grabbing 31 points and 11 rebounds to help the Sixers to a 112-97 win and a 2-0 lead in the series.

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The Philly big man was a constant menace to the Raptors, whose plans to double and even triple-team the 76ers star proved fruitless.

Nurse was so concerned with Embiid’s threat before the game that he doubled and tripled down on off-day rhetoric, almost daring the officials to call a fair game - from his eyes.

Twelve free throws in 12 first-quarter minutes later, Nurse would soon find out that challenging his players to be more physical merely played into Embiid's hands.

Every Raptor who tried a hand at Embiid wound up in foul trouble — and Embiid was well aware of the emphasis on a more physical treatment, drawing a double technical with OG Anunoby for pushing each other during a dead ball.

As the clock ticked away, Nurse and Embiid engaged in a heated argument along the Raptors’ sideline, with the Sixers star revealing what it was all about after the game.

“I’ve always been a big fan [of Nurse], but I told him, respectfully... to stop bitching about calls, because I saw what he said last game,” Embiid said.

“If you’re going to triple-team somebody all game, they’re bound to get to the free-throw line.”

Nurse issued Embiid a heavy compliment, and chalked up the exchange to two competitors doing what they do best.

He claims Embiid said, “‘I’m gonna keep making all my free throws if you keep fouling me,’ and I said, ‘Well, you might have to.’”

It makes 25 trips to the foul line in two games for Embiid, and he’s made 21 of them. He went as far as to say the officials would’ve taken heed of Nurse’s words, so it would be harder for him to earn calls.

He’s probably the hardest player to officiate since Shaquille O’Neal in his heyday, a massive human being with the wily skills of sneaky guards and the rule-book knowledge of a habitual line-stepper.

“They put me on the floor, a few times. This is where it gets interesting for me,” Embiid said.

“I’m gonna come back with more power. That’s the reason I got a few offensive fouls tonight. I’m gonna make you foul me. The refs don’t want to call it, so it’s all about having self-awareness.

“You listen to everything said after the game. Referees and the league is the same way. They’re gonna come in, let stuff go, not gonna call some fouls. You gotta jump into people, finish through contact. I’ve been doing this quite awhile, that’s usually the adjustment.”

Sixers run down Raptors after slow start

An early 11-2 Raptors start soon evaporated through a haze of whistles, a task made tougher with rookie Scottie Barnes being out after injuring his ankle in Game 1 and Gary Trent Jr. barely able to go in the first half with illness.

Fred VanVleet, who matched Embiid’s free throws with long bombs early, seemed to run out of gas while chasing around Tyrese Maxey and James Harden all evening. Fifteen of his 20 points came in the first quarter, and he was 2-of-14 in the last three quarters.

“We went through a little of a spell … and all of a sudden an opportunity to stay with them [was gone],” Nurse said. “It’s hard enough, but it’s getting a little harder. Hopefully these guys can be healthy by Game 3.”

He was particularly discouraged by the events that occurred while Embiid sat in the second quarter, when Maxey, the Game 1 hero, and Harden started running wild. Usually, that’s a time for teams to gain ground on the 76ers, but with so much attention focused on Embiid, something had to give and the dam broke before halftime.

Seen here, Philadelphia 76ers star Tyrese Maxey in action against the Toronto Raptors in game two of the NBA playoffs.
Philadelphia 76ers star Tyrese Maxey signals during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game two of the Eastern Conference playoff series. Pic: Getty

It didn’t quite look like a replay of Game 1, but being down 15 and then 29 before the end of the third, Nurse and the Raptors didn’t have much in the way of answers.

Tobias Harris and Maxey took full advantage, while Harden played a low-key game in 41 minutes, shooting just 3-of-9 to score 14 with six rebounds and six assists. Maxey again provided a burst, hitting three triples and scoring 23 points with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Harris, whom Doc Rivers gave a psychological massage to in the postgame by noting Harris has had to alter his game more than anyone since the Harden trade, scored 20 with 10 rebounds — hitting all three of his 3-point attempts.

It was part of an Embiid-centered barrage of open shots, with the 76ers hitting 14 of 30 from three.

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