Joel Embiid struggled to explain his playoff heartbreak after the 76ers were lost on Kawhi Leonard’s sensational Game 7 buzzer-beater.
The Sixers took Leonard and the Raptors the distance in their Eastern Conference semifinal series but fell to a 92-90 in the decider in Toronto, with the crucial last-second shot bouncing four times on the rim before dropping in for the first Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA history.
Embiid appeared to be crying after the game, and he found it difficult to later expand on his emotions.
Joel Embiid is completely physically and emotionally drained
— MRCROCKPOT TPL (@mrcrockpot) May 13, 2019
“Game 7, losing a game that way, last shot, after a hard-fought game, I felt like we had a chance,” he told reporters. “A lot of things go through your mind. It sucks. I can’t explain it, it just sucks.”
He added on Raptors star Leonard: “He’s a great player, obviously. He did his thing. You’ve got to give him credit. He made some tough shots the whole series. They leaned on him heavily.”
Leonard hit the game-winner over the outstretched hands of potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate Joel Embiid, and after the horn sounded, the Sixers big man was overcome with emotion. To his credit, Raptors veteran Marc Gasol comforted Embiid, who could be seen with tears streaming down his face as fans cheered at the Air Canada Centre.
That’s a pretty classy move by Gasol at this juncture, and it’s a real testament to how much Embiid cared about winning that he would show that kind of emotion immediately after a loss in full public view of everyone in Toronto.
Embiid shouldn’t be embarrassed about his breakdown, and Gasol should get a hat tip for playing the role of mentor to somebody who’s not even on his own team.
The 76ers now will embark on summer vacation. The Raptors, meanwhile, are onto the Eastern Conference finals where they’ll meet Giannis Antetokounmpo and the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.