By Art Beitchman
It’s bad enough that the 76ers lost to the Toronto Raptors in an excruciatingly tortured fashion.
But getting ousted on an insane heave by Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard made it even worse in the 92-90 defeat in game 7 Sunday night.
Leonard gorged the Sixers for an amazing 34.7 ppg average in the 7-game series, and double-teaming him most of the series was ineffective. It was a performance for the ages that will no doubt get Leonard a massive free agent contract, possibly reaching $40M per year!
Unfortunately for Sixers fans, Joel Embiid didn’t step his game up — he stepped back.
Averaging 27 points in the regular season, Jojo averaged 17.6 vs Toronto and clearly lost the battle of the superstars.
I had originally believed it was Brett Brown not demanding Jo get on the low block, but I was wrong.
Embiid was brought to tears knowing in his heart he was not in proper condition and sickly during the grueling seven games series to give the Sixers the firepower they needed to match Leonard.
Jo just didn’t have the stamina to get in the weight room and battle Marc Gasol for 48 minutes — it was tough to watch play out.
The good news is the series was taken to seven games, and it took a miracle shot to beat the Sixers with a 70% Joel Embiid.
Embiid’s tears give me confidence that he learned a valuable lesson the very hard way:
Being in condition, eating right and taking total care of yourself, not just in the NBA season, but 365 days a year is what’s needed to be a championship player, as a franchise player.
I believe Joel Embiid will come back more serious about his NBA career next season.