The Philadelphia 76ers managed to overcome a chippy road atmosphere in Game 3 to defeat the Brooklyn Nets, taking a commanding 3-0 series lead in the process. Joel Embiid was once again quiet by his normal standards, scoring 14 points on 13 shots. He did, however, make several key defensive plays — including an impressive game-sealing block on Spencer Dinwiddie in the waning seconds of the game.
What really grabbed headlines, however, was not Embiid’s performance. It was his very blatant and intentional kick to the groin area of Nic Claxton in the first quarter. Claxton scored over Embiid and then proceeded to attempt the Iverson-style stepover, which the Sixers’ MVP candidate evidently did not appreciate.
Here’s the video.
Will Joel Embiid get suspended for 76ers-Nets Game 4?
Embiid’s kick happened to occur the same day as Draymond Green’s one-game suspension for stepping on the chest of Domantas Sabonis in Game 2 of Warriors-Kings, which has set off a chain reaction of discourse around what is and isn’t a suspension-worthy act. And, as if one incident wasn’t enough, James Harden was controversially ejected from the game later on after hitting Royce O’Neale in the groin, which landed him a flagrant penalty two.
Embiid was only given a flagrant one for his kick to Claxton’s groin and he was allowed to stay in the game, a decision that left Nets coach Jacques Vaughn in utter disbelief. Now the league is set to investigate the incident to determine if further discipline is required, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
As he notes, all flagrant fouls are reviewed by the league. In fact, it’s possible that Harden’s flagrant two will get reduced to a flagrant one or rescinded entirely. As for Embiid, the question is if further consideration from the league could result in a more significant penalty, such as a suspension for Game 4.
History is on Embiid’s side here, and it actually involves the aforementioned Draymond Green. Thursday’s Game 3 was not the first time Green has been suspended. He was suspended for Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals after hitting LeBron James in the groin area, but — and this is the important detail — Green was not suspended for the act itself. He was suspended because of an accumulation of flagrant points over the course of the season.
Embiid does not face the same predicament as Green at the moment. He hasn’t accumulated that many flagrant points. If the NBA is going to follow established precedent, Embiid should be allowed to play in Game 4. That said, this is something of a hot-button topic in the national media right now. It wouldn’t be completely shocking for the NBA to break with recent tradition and hand down a stiffer penalty to Embiid to discourage similar acts from players the rest of the postseason.
For now, we can only wait and see. But one has to imagine the league wants Embiid, a bonafide superstar and soon-to-be MVP, on the court.