By Tommy Matthews
Joel Embiid is just the seventh player in NBA history to average at least 10 made free throws per game, totaling 661 in his 66 games this season.
His free throw rate (58.1 attempts per 100 shots from the field) was down from last season (60.2), but still ranked fourth among 180 players with at least 500 field goal attempts. And his 85.7% shooting from the line was the best mark of his career.
Embiid’s effective field goal percentage (57.3%) and true shooting percentage (65.5%) were also the best marks of his career, largely because he was more effective in the paint. He took 59% of his shots in the paint, up from just 51% over the last three seasons. And his field goal percentage in the paint (63.2%) was a career-high mark by a healthy margin.
Some credit goes to James Harden, who assisted on 174 of Embiid’s 491 field goals in the paint, 41 more than all other Sixers combined (133). Overall, Harden’s 244 total assists to Embiid were 89 more than any other player (in the league) had to a single teammate.
The Nets have a lot of good players and they won’t be an easy out, but 30 of their 45 wins came with Durant and/or Irving in uniform, and they were just 15-18 otherwise.
So they’re certainly not the strongest 6 seed, while the Sixers are just the third 3 seed in the last 20 years to rank in the top eight on both ends of the floor. And while Claxton is an All-Defense candidate, Brooklyn just doesn’t have a good answer for Embiid.