May 10, 2019
The NBA has reportedly decided to not rescind Joel Embiid’s flagrant foul from the fourth quarter of the Sixers’ Game 6 win over the Raptors.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps first reported the news Friday afternoon:
Joel Embiid's flagrant foul from last night's game will not be rescinded, league sources told ESPN. Embiid now has 3 flagrant foul points during the playoffs. He will earn an automatic 1-game suspension if he picks up a flagrant-1, & a 2-game suspension if he gets a flagrant 2.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) May 10, 2019
If you missed the flagrant foul when it happened, here’s a look at what Embiid did to get the whistle:
Replay Review (Game Crew): if a potential hostile act was committed by Embiid in Q4 of #TORatPHI. Ruling: Flagrant foul penalty 1 assessed to Embiid for unnecessary contact made with Gasol. pic.twitter.com/4OoXbEZEuh— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) May 10, 2019
As Bontemps notes in his tweet above, the decision not to rescind the foul is crucial because Embiid now has three “points” from flagrant fouls in the playoffs. Accruing four “points” translates to an automatic one-game suspension, which would happen if Embiid is called for another flagrant-1 foul at any time between Game 7 of this series and the end of the playoffs.
If the Sixers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bucks, that would put Embiid at least slightly on his heels in a series where physicality will be a necessity against MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo.
PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck spoke with Sixers head coach Brett Brown after Thursday’s game about the foul call, and Brown was not pleased with the call:
Spoke with Brett Brown briefly following conclusion of tonight’s presser, he told PhillyVoice team does not believe late flagrant on Joel Embiid was warranted.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) May 10, 2019
Play was borderline enough that it will certainly be looked at by the league, and flagrant point looms large for Embiid
Embiid was asked about the call after the game, and he also took umbrage with the ruling:
Embiid on the flagrant: “It’s annoying, stupid... it’s just basketball, I didn’t mean to do it.”— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) May 10, 2019
In this writer's opinion, the foul — which occurred late in the fourth quarter while the Sixers owned a 21-point lead — is almost the textbook definition of incidental contact. Embiid’s hand briefly grazes Gasol’s face while the two lock elbows and fight for position in an attempt to secure a rebound.
In a sport featuring such intimate playing quarters, and especially in the postseason, this decision reads like a flagrant misunderstanding of the game.
The Sixers face the Raptors in Game 7, in Toronto, on Sunday evening.