Joel Embiid and his Philadelphia 76ers are getting ready to face the Toronto Raptors in one of the most entertaining first-round series of the 2022 NBA playoffs. The Cameroonian big man has enjoyed a terrific season, where he won the scoring title, becoming the first center to get the honor in 22 years.
Now it's time to see if he wins the regular-season MVP, but meanwhile, Embiid will have the not so easy job of facing the Toronto Raptors that shocked a lot of people when they avoided the play-in tournament and finished the regular season as the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference.
The challenge will get bigger for Embiid and the Sixers, especially knowing the Raptors won the regular-season series. Moreover, this team already eliminated Philly in 2019 on their way to the championship.
Talking about this upcoming series, Embiid revealed that he enjoys playing against Toronto since they've made him a better playmaker.
Via The Philly Voice:
"The way they defend me has never changed," Embiid said. "They just play recklessly, sending three guys on me as soon as the ball is in the air. Which, that made me better, honestly, over the years. Just playing against them and watching them, they definitely made me a better playmaker. I enjoy playing them. But there's still a lot of ways I can attack them, it doesn't have to be iso. I can just get deep position on them, use my size and my weight to try to take advantage of them. I think I know what I have to do, I just got to execute."
"It forces me to be a playmaker, and I think this year I did a really good job just beating guys and finding my teammates, making the right plays," Embiid said at practice Thursday. "Going into the series, I've played against them enough that I kind of know how they play. If that's what they want to do, I already know the adjustment, and I'm just going to trust my teammates."
"I'm not going into the series hoping to average 40. They're going to get the ball out of my hands, so it's all about me really not getting frustrated, keep trusting my teammates over and over, making the right plays. Doesn't matter if it's 10, 20 points or whatever, as long as we score, that's my mentality," Embiid said. "All the attention they're going to throw on me, I just got to make my teammates better."
This will be a tough challenge for the Sixers, but Embiid is confident they can get the job done. James Harden needs to step up his game if he wants to help his squad, especially against a dangerous team like the Raptors. This appears to be one of the most entertaining series heading into the playoffs, but we have to wait and see if they give us another show as they did in 2019.