Days after boldly labelling himself “the best player in the world”, Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid pulled off a career-best performance against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.
Embiid has prospered in the 2019/20 NBA season, averaging 23.8 points, 12 rebounds and 3.2 assists per match — however, it’s difficult to argue he’s the “best” basketballer with James Harden and LeBron James still in action.
Following the Sixers’ 112-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday — where Embiid dropped 39 points — the Cameroonian discussed his impact on the All-Star match.
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“The All-Star Game was fun. Being there in the fourth quarter, doing my thing at the end of the game, I thought it was great,” Embiid told ESPN.
“But the All-Star Game, just proving I’m here, I belong, and being the best player in the world, I just intend to keep coming out every single night and just play hard and trying to get wins and just go out and try to win a championship.”
Joel Embiid called himself the best player in the world after beating the Nets at home as the East's #5 seed and boy do I envy that level of irrational confidence.
Joel Embiid is the best player in the world. If by “world” you mean “the Sixers locker room.” Yes, absolutely.
Embiid says he is the best player in the world… Saturday night ,when he is playing the #bucks ,he wont even be the best player in the building..
Although he was widely condemned for the remarks, Embiid quickly proved his critics wrong, scoring a career-best 49 points against the Hawks in Philadelphia, spurring spectators to chant “MVP” in the final quarter. His previous high was 46 against the Los Angeles Lakers in November 2017.
Embiid made 14 of 15 free throws and 17 of 24 shots from the floor. He guided the Sixers to a 129-112 victory, backing up his stellar shooting performance with 14 rebounds and three assists.
Embiid’s 49 points are the most by a Sixers starting centre since Moses Malone managed 51 in 1984.
Joel Embiid proved his doubters wrong on Tuesday.Source:AP
“I said I was going to get back to having fun. Having fun comes in different forms,” Embiid said after the game.
“I don’t always have to be smiling or laughing all the time; I can have fun just dominating the game. Obviously tonight was just one of those nights where I was having fun like the old days, just having fun with the crowd. Some nights I might want to dominate and stay quiet, but it was cool.
“The most important thing was that we bounced back and got the win.”
Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown had nothing but praise for the “impressive” 25-year-old powerhouse, calling the three-time NBA All-Star “dominant”.
“He was dominant making his free throws, he was dominant as an interior presence, scoring that volume of points at that efficient of a rate is impressive,” Brown said.
Joel Embiid wreaked havoc in Philly tonight ? pic.twitter.com/B8hjyOVfGp
Joel Embiid career-high cele pic.twitter.com/1ol3IdLgBb
Rising star Trae Young scored 28 points for the Hawks — despite missing nine of 11 shots from three-point range — while forwards De’Andre Hunter and John Collins contributed 22 and 21 respectively. Young described Embiid as “super skilled” after the match.
“To be honest, he’s probably the best big in our league,” Young said.
“Super skilled, super strong — when he’s in attack mode, it’s hard to guard him.”
After trailing by 21 in the first half, the Hawks outscored Philadelphia 23-9 to start the third quarter. They closed out the period with an 8-0 run and took a 92-91 lead into the fourth after Young finally nailed a three-pointer.
However, the hosts outscored Atlanta 38-20 in the final quarter to secure their 27th home victory of the season.
Joel Embiid is a three-time NBA All-StarSource:Getty Images
The Sixers were without star Ben Simmons on Tuesday, but Brown didn’t speculate on the injury or wasn’t certain how long the Australian would be sidelined.
“I don’t know. It really is kind of, like, how long is a piece of string? Who knows? Who knows?” Brown said.
“Whatever the time equals on days, games, period of time, then we can talk more honestly as this thing shakes out. But as it sits right now, that’s how I see the world.”
Simmons only played five minutes during the Sixers’ loss at Milwaukee on Saturday and required testing after the game.
The Sixers will next face the Cleveland Cavaliers in an away fixture on Thursday.
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