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“Nobody can guard Joel Embiid if the refs let him run you over”: Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse, bashes refs for not giving Scottie Barnes and company a fair whistle against Sixers MVP

Samir Mehdi

“Nobody can guard Joel Embiid if the refs let him run you over”: Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse, bashes refs for not giving Scottie Barnes and company a fair whistle against Sixers MVP

Nick Nurse calls out the referees for not calling fouls against Joel Embiid and instead giving him the call on the offensive end. 

It was no surprise that Joel Embiid and James Harden would be at the charity stripe more times than any of the other 8 players on the court between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors. Last night’s Game 1 between the two proved just that as Embiid and Harden combined for 18 free throw attempts, a relatively low number for them. 

The Raptors, on paper, have a team that can dismantle the Sixers on the defensive end of the floor . Guys like Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, and OG Anunoby are all lengthy, agile defenders who can give Joel Embiid a tough time making decisions with constant double teams.

Also read: “What if you take away Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s free throws?”: James Harden cannot make sense of Ty Lue’s comment on free throws, claps back at Clippers coach

Unfortunately for Nick Nurse, James Harden had the ball more often than Embiid, something they didn’t expect given his lackluster play as of recent. This led to him making more plays from the perimeter, dishing out 14 assists on the night. 

Nick Nurse on Joel Embiid getting a better whistle than them. 

Joel Embiid went 9-11 from the free throw line and got to the line with a couple questionable moves. Given it’s the Playoffs, it’s understandable as to how the Sixers big-man looked to establish himself more aggressively in Game 1 but Nurse believes Embiid was given an unfair advantage on the whistle tonight. 

“If we’re legal defensively, we’ve gotta have a call, or we don’t have a chance. Nobody can guard that guy if they’re gonna let him run you over,” said Nurse. 

Also read: “Toronto Raptors just play reckless, sending three guys on me..”: Joel Embiid knows how his first round opponents play, not going to repeat 2019’s heartbreak

The refs did call a Flagrant 1 on Joel for elbowing Scottie Barnes in the face on a block attempt and then pushing him to the ground. Barnes took notice of this on the jumbotron and returned the favor a while later and got called for a Flagrant 1 as well. 

Talking about the Sixers-Raptors game tonight would be incomplete without giving Tyrese Maxey his flowers. He scored 38 points on 14-21 shooting from the field and had 20 points in the third period, helping the Sixers keep a large double digit lead on the Raps, eventually leading to a blowout victory. 

About the author

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi


Samir Mehdi is a senior strategist for the NBA division at The Sportsrush. Ever since he was 13 years old, he’s been obsessed with the game of basketball. From watching Kobe Bryant’s highlights on YouTube to now, analyzing and breaking down every single game on League Pass, Samir’s passion for the game is unwavering. He's a complete basketball junkie who not only breaks down current games but also keenly watches ones from the 60s’ and 70s’ while also reading comprehensive books on the history of the league. Samir’s life revolves around basketball and he hopes that shows in his work. Aside from work, he loves to spend time in the gym and with his friends at social gatherings.

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