The freshly beefed-up Philadelphia 76ers faced a reeling and miserable Boston Celtics team in Philly last night, and thus had the opportunity to put a signature win on their increasingly hated rivals. Instead, they got beat 112-109 (despite the Celtics not having Kyrie Irving on the floor), and Joel Embiid was frustrated about how the game turned out. He ended up doing that thing a lot of star players do when they have a bad game in an important matchup: blame the refs.
After grouchily sitting through a press conference in which he was asked to explain how Al Horford had held him to a 9-of-22 shooting night, Embiid ended things with a pointed message:
Embiid was clearly upset about a no-call at the end of the game, when he went one-on-one against Horford, got hacked and lost the ball, then watched Marcus Smart dunk it at the other end to give Boston a four-point lead with under 30 seconds to play.
His frustration likely runs even deeper, though. The Sixers are now 1-7 against the Celtics, Raptors, and Bucks this year, and are 2-10 against the Celtics over the last 16 months. Horford is one of the few players who has had any success locking up Embiid on a regular basis, and the Celtics give the Sixers more trouble than any other team in the league. Last night was an opportunity for the Sixers, now armed with Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler, to prove that they now have the upper hand in the rivalry. That may yet prove to be true, but for now the Celtics still own the Sixers, and all Embiid can do about it is curse the referees.