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February 13, 2019

Twitter reacts to Joel Embiid's outburst against refs in Sixers loss to Celtics

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Joel Embiid Jalen Brown Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid reacts in front of Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown after scoring during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center on Feb 12, 2019.

Sixers big man Joel Embiid has insisted repeatedly that Philadelphia doesn't have a proper rivalry with the Celtics — because, in his words, "They always kick our ass."

That was the case again in a tight 112-109 loss Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, where Embiid unleashed on himself and the referees during a postgame press conference. He referenced his layup in the final seconds (the Sixers needed a three) and a critical no-call in an earlier post battle with Al Horford.

Embiid, obviously frustrated, can probably expect a fine for this one.

As the losses to Boston pile up, it's fair to evaluate whether the usually dominant Embiid is having serious issues handling Al Horford's versatility and veteran savvy. His gripe with the refs (new and old) against the Celtics is a separate issue that goes back to game five of last year's playoff series, when the NBA belatedly admitted the refs missed a fairly decisive Aaron Baynes foul on Embiid in the paint. 

Embiid's choice of words certainly won't endear him to referees down the stretch. While he took some blame for the loss, that's understandably going to get drowned out by an F-bomb. 

On the other hand, why does that keep happening? The refs may need to take a closer look at what's going on in these key "let them play" situations.

Embiid can get to the line all game long, but if whistles are silent on obvious fouls deep in the fourth quarter, when it's do or die, something's not right. You can argue Embiid initiated contact last night — let them play, right? — but there is no denying he got mugged making his move to the basket. 

A play like this is never the lone reason for a loss, and never the most important, but it's blatantly one of them. 

The reaction to Embiid's press conference unearthed some rare criticism of his match-up with Horford. Here's a look at what people are saying about the big man's struggles against Boston. 

The way the standings sit right now, there's every likelihood that these two teams will meet in the first round of the NBA playoffs. A loss by either side will be disastrous in that scenario. Needless to say, the Sixers need to figure out how to turn this matchup around. 

And anyone who's upset with Joel, just watch him waving at fish again and you'll fall back in love.