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Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse complained about the lack of foul calls against Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid.
Embiid gets the star treatment — surely a veteran coach like Nurse knows this. But after the Raptors lost by 20 points in Game 1, Nurse had to give some sort of rallying cry other than “well, we’ll try harder next time.”
So, what did he do? Blame the officials, of course. Joel Embiid went to the free-throw line 11 different occasions in Game 1. That’s a hefty number. By throwing some headline eye-candy out into the world (you’re welcome, Toronto), perhaps the officials will overthink these supposed fouls on a player like Embiid.
“The counter is, we’ve got to believe that, if we’re legal defensively, that they’re going to call those,” Nurse said. “Like, we had a couple of times where we beat him to the spot and he bowled us right over, and they just let him lay it in.”
Nick Nurse: 76ers star Joel Embiid got away with fouls
Does Embiid get away with some contact? Sure, he’s a big man who uses his body to his advantage. But he’s also an offensively gifted player in a star-driven league, what exactly does Nurse expect?
“I don’t care if you’re 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, if you beat him to the spot and he runs over, it’s a foul,” Nurse continued. “I thought he threw three or four elbows to the face. He got called for one. OK. I mean, we’re gonna stand in there. We just need, if we’re legal defensively, then we’ve got to have them called or we don’t have a chance, period.”
As a big, Embiid was taught to put the ball up high where only he can get to it, and move with authority. If it works against him from time to time, so be it. However, it’s hard to believe these scrappy Raptors are blameless in their own right.
Toronto gave up 131 points to Philly in their first playoff game. That’s not a great look, and blaming Embiid and the refs isn’t going to help matters.