It took one quarter for the 76ers’ wild side to emerge in their first game at the Orlando bubble complex.
As Philadelphia players walked off the floor after the opening 12 minutes against the Pacers, Joel Embiid and Shake Milton appeared to get into a significant squabble. It looked as if Embiid said a magic word or phrase to set Milton off — the conversation went from civil to almost physical in about a second. Rookie Matisse Thybulle held Milton back from making a run at Embiid.
“It’s basketball, everybody makes mistakes,” Embiid told reporters after the game. “You move on and find a soloution. It happens on every team.”
Undoubtedly talented, the 76ers have made things difficult for themselves over the past two seasons with the unpredictable behavior of Embiid, stubbornness of Ben Simmons and occasional antagonism of their own fans. Some teams can thrive despite existing in perpetual dysfunction, but Philadelphia has yet to prove it has that kind of toughness.
Milton entered Philadelphia’s starting lineup Saturday but was plagued by foul trouble from the get-go. Before the coronavirus pandemic he had emerged as an unexpected source of backcourt production and figures to get big minutes moving forward.
The 76ers trailed the Pacers by six when Embiid and Milton argued. Coach Brett Brown deemed the incident a non-issue following the team’s eventual 127-121 defeat.
Embiid put up a tremendous stat line, scoring 41 points and grabbing 21 rebounds. The 76ers were 26 points worse when he was on the bench.
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