PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With less than one second left in the third quarter of the Sixers’ win over the Denver Nuggets, Joel Embiid made a circus no-look shot as he was fouled. The All-Star center then celebrated in typical Embiid fashion with a shimmy and motion to the crowd to get louder.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 11, 2019
This kind of celebrating is something the center said he has not done as much as he’d like as of late, but wants to get back to.
“I need to be myself,” Embiid said. “When I’m having fun, I dominate.”
The center added that he has not been having fun like he usually does in an attempt to be a more mature player. He mentioned a big part of his game is talking trash, but that has been cut down following a two-game suspension for an in-game scuffle with Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns on Oct. 30.
The fight was followed by a flurry of social media posts between the two.
“I’m not trying to be a distraction to the team. The fight happened and we had good momentum and from there we kind of lost it,” Embiid said. “Sometimes I might be childish but I care about winning, I care about my teammates, the organization and being a role model. Everyone told me I need to be mature. I don’t think it’s working but I’m going to keep doing it.”
Embiid also mentioned that he feels as though he has not dominated games as he has in the past because he is still adjusting to this team.
“I’m still getting used to the whole season and I’m still trying to adjust. Obviously, it’s not the same as last year, so the adjustment has been hard, but I am going to do whatever I’m asked to do every single night,” he said.
The opening night lineup of Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson has only played 10 games together so far this year.
Embiid finished Tuesday’s game with 22 points and 10 rebounds, his 12th 20-10 game of the season, which is good enough for third in the NBA. But on “Inside the NBA” following the game, both Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal say Embiid is not living up to his potential.
“He’s the toughest player in the league to match up with, but we don’t talk about him the way we talk about Luka [Doncic], Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Anthony Davis, James [Harden],” Barkley said. “It’s frustrating for me because I picked the Sixers to get to the Finals. They ain’t got no chance.”
“We’re telling you, you can be great, you ain’t playing hard enough. Twenty-two ain’t enough to get you to the next level,” O’Neal said. “Do you want to be great or do you want to be good? If you want to be good, keep doing 22 points. You want to be great, give me 28 [points], give me 30 [points].”
So far this year, Embiid is averaging 21.9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game after averaging 27.5 points and 13.6 boards last season.