Joel Embiid was out to prove a point against Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
The Philadelphia 76ers didn’t pick up the win but Embiid dropped 46 points against the Warriors. The MVP candidate had some extra motivation to score, citing some comments from Green about Nikola Jokic.
“He said, ‘You know why I played like that tonight? You said Joker was the hardest person to guard in the league. I took that personal,’” Green said.
The matchup with Embiid during the Warriors’ 120-112 win seemed to have shifted Green’s opinion.
“So I want to tell you all, Joel is the hardest guy in the league,” Green said with a laugh.
Green Commends Kevon Looney for Defense
The Warriors knew they could not stop Embiid, but Green felt they did a good enough job of slowing him down so that things got hard in the fourth quarter in crunch time.
“You just don’t want to give a steady diet,” Green said. “In that fourth quarter, we just tried to throw different looks at him, we fired a couple times, we sent double teams from the top of the floor, we sent double teams from the bottom of the floor. We caught the ball at the 3-point line one time we set the double team. Coach gave us the free will to kind of fake some hits and pull back and tried to keep him off balance.”
Green commended the effort from big man Kevon Looney, putting some wear and tear on Embiid.
“[Kevon Looney] did an incredible job all night just battling him. And in saying that, he finished with 46 points, but the way Loon battled and kept a body on him all night, the hope is you wear him down. Some of those shots he was making throughout the game, during the last six minutes of the fourth quarter he missed a few of them. Just gotta trust your defense and trust your process and we did a good job of that.”
Green didn’t do too bad himself, coming up three rebounds short of a triple-double with 10 points, 10 assists and seven boards.
“I feel good. It’s that time of year you’ve got to turn everything up a notch,” Green said. “I love this time of year.”
Warriors Catching Momentum at Right Time
The Warriors have won three in a row at just the right time, making some headway in a packed Western Conference. Golden State is now the No. 6 seed in the West, which has them avoiding the dreaded play-in game.
“We definitely want to stay out of the play-in tournament,” Stephen Curry said. “You never know how that can go — a single game here or there.”
The Warriors have just seven games left in the regular season and want to keep the momentum rolling as they get ready to defend their title in the postseason.
“The mindset is always you’re trying to put together a solid run heading into the playoffs. Nobody wants to limbo into the playoffs and have to turn it on,” Curry said. “We somewhat did that last year but you’d rather not have that kind of uncertainty going in. No matter how it pans out, you want to be firing on all cylinders.”
Next up for the Warriors is a matchup against the Timberwolves on Sunday.