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May 11, 2018

NBA admits Joel Embiid was fouled by Celtics in closing seconds of Game 5

NBA Playoffs
Joel Embiid Aaron Baynes Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) attempts a layup against Boston Celtics center Aron Baynes (46) during the second half in game five of the second round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at the TD Garden.

You know what else they say about hindsight? It doesn't send you to the free throw line.

Philadelphia is still licking its wounds and moving forward after the Celtics eliminated the Sixers in Boston on Wednesday night.

There's a good chance the two rivals might have been playing Game 6 tonight in Philadelphia if the officials hadn't blown a crucial call.

The NBA released its Last Two Minutes Report for Game 5 on Thursday with an admission that Joel Embiid was fouled by Aaron Baynes on the lay-up attempt that would have knotted the game at 111 with 14.6 seconds remaining.

Embiid, who removed his mask for the play, said during his post-game presser that he felt there should have been a foul call. He also praised the officials for their work overall in the series. 

In a physical playoff atmosphere, it's customary for officials to "let them play," but a closer look at this play shows it's fairly obvious that Baynes' contact with Embiid's forearm impacted the shot attempt.

The Last Two Minutes Report, calling the ruling on the floor incorrect, notes that "Baynes (BOS) makes contact to Embiid's (PHI) arm that affects his shot attempt near the rim."

Marcus Smart also should have been called for traveling on the final inbounds heave to the far left baseline, according to the NBA's report. The no-call there is understandable, even if the rulebook says it technically should have been a turnover. 

None of this is to say the Sixers couldn't have found other ways to win this game — and others throughout the series — but in such a tight situation on a play that might have been game-tying, that's a tough pill to swallow.

It also puts into perspective the criticism that some Celtics players had for Embiid after the final buzzer. The Sixers star walked off the court without shaking anybody's hand. 

For one, Embiid knew he was fouled and robbed on that play. Two, he ultimately gave credit to the Celtics both individually and as a unit in his post-game press conference.

Three: Tell Tom Brady he ought to call Nick Foles to congratulate him.