Joel Embiid challenges fellow Sixers to hard practice: ‘His A** Up Course’

Joel Embiid, Sixers, left, and teammate Tobias Harris


Joel Embiid, Sixers, left, and teammate Tobias Harris

Everything plays out in some respect in the NBA knockouts, including the games that take place over the weekend. Several Philadelphia 76ers players jogged off the field on Thursday with ugly cups after Doc Rivers put them through three insider scenarios.

Everything is heating up. Joel Embiid threw his trusty “troll” hat and threw it at Tobias Harris. Embiid wants Harris to match his championship intensity, which everyone on the Sixers roster will have to deliver against the Toronto Raptors.

“If Tobias talks [to the media] he’ll tell you, I locked him up,” Embiid told reporters on Thursday,” and I talked to him and I let him know, and he got mad but he knew it wasn’t personal. I want him to get better, and I want them all to get better.”

That message was delivered during a quick practice session two days before Game 1, through some friendly trash talk between teammates.

“It’s the only way I know and as I’ve always said, I’m not here to worry about people’s feelings,” Embiid said. “I want to win and to be able to win I need everyone and I need to challenge them.”

Embiid showed up at training camp in the best shape of his life, talking about how he wanted to dominate and claim the title for Philly. The All-Star Center looks tidier – less Shirley Shrine? – and talk more like a leader. Of course, Embiid still likes to have fun – but when it’s time to get serious and get to work, he will. And he expects everyone around him to do the same.

“I don’t think I have a way to approach the boys,” Embiid said. “I will still be myself. I will challenge the men, overcome them, I will push them… and these people understand that. They understand that it is not a personal matter.”

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Doc Rivers: ‘They played hard today’

Rivers confirmed Embiid’s report of hard training, adding that it was “a bit of a breakthrough” in terms of offensive execution. The head coach likes the way his boys compete on Thursday, although the trash talk did distract the boys for a moment. They quickly improved it and were on the right track.

“I like it as long as you can stay focused and focused through it,” says Rivers. “I used to think there was too much talk and we stopped doing it, but then we started doing it through the talk and that was good.”

The Sixers have not played a game since Sunday (April 10). They went through two scenarios internally on Wednesday, then three on Thursday. Rivers preached about forward defense, counter-attacking, and “continued speed” which is the movement of the ball.

“I think you could see a bit of a breakout today,” Rivers said. “You know, just make an attack, defend catch it, move the ball versus switch and trap.”

James Harden Feeling fit, sprinting

James Harden has missed the regular-season final due to a “left hamstring injury”. It’s something he’s been managing all year. And there’s nothing to worry about, according to Harden. He did sprints and worked in the weight room to make sure the injury wouldn’t bother him. Harden feels almost 100% like he would feel about to enter post-season.

“No, it’s very good,” Harden talks about his hamstring. “I’ve actually done some sprints and some hamstrings this week so it’s been really good for me, to be able to mentally prepare for this first round.”

Harden was asked if he feels any additional pressure following the mid-season sale from Brooklyn. The way things ended up there could make the men less likely to crack.

“Pressure? No, I feel good,” said Harden. “I’m ready to dance, nothing to do.” Joel Embiid challenges fellow Sixers to hard practice: ‘His A** Up Course’

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