Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid stepped up big time on Tuesday night to lead his team to a much-needed win over the Miami Heat. The Sixers, who were playing their third straight game short-handed, edged out the Heat 137-134 in overtime to end their three-game losing streak.
Embiid, who scored his season-high of 45 points, delivered 35 points in the second half and overtime. "It was needed," Embiid said of his performance, as quoted on ESPN. "We needed it tonight." Embiid acknowledged that losing two games in a row is too much for him, let alone three games.
"We lost three games in a row. Our mentality should always be we should never lose two games in a row, and we lost three in a row," he explained, "so there was no chance we were going down losing four in a row.
So whatever I had to do and whatever my teammates had to do, we did it and we got the win."
Embiid was scoring from different parts of the floor
"We put him in the middle of the floor," Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said, "because whenever we put him below the free throw line, as far as throwing it to him, that's where they were coming from.
"I thought [Miami] really struggled, finding where to trap or who to trap off of; and it also allowed Joel to see when people were trapping him where to throw the ball, so it's a good adjustment." "[But] he willed this game for us tonight."
The Sixers now own an 8-4 record and they stand at No. 2 in the Eastern Conference standings. Embiid has set high goals as he wants to deliver the city of Philadelphia an NBA Championship. "It is, but that's not what I'm focused on," Embiid said.
"The main goal is to win a championship. When it comes to individual awards, it can't happen unless you're winning games. So the main thing I'm worried about is winning. "Because at the end of the day, if I win, if we win, and we get the first seed, there's no reason why you know I shouldn't be in MVP, Defensive Player of the Year conversations, All-NBA first team and all that stuff.
"It all goes back to the same thing: winning," he added. "But the main goal is winning the championship; we're trying to get ready for what's to come, the playoffs and [getting] to that level. So like I said, it all goes back to winning."