I Philadelphia 76ers scored a crucial victory in Game 3 of the first round Playoffs. The 97-102 final allowed the Sixers to take a 3-0 lead in the series against the Brooklyn Nets.
Some controversial episodes are causing much discussion with Joel Embiid e James Harden protagonists.
Harden was expelled for a blow in the nether regions at Roycee O’Neal who was defending very close to him. The Philadelphia guard, in an attempt to create separation, struck his opponent there where it hurt most. A contact whose voluntariness cannot be understood but which led the referees to opt for the flagrant 2 and subsequent ejection.
The person directly involved did not take it well at all and expressed all his disappointment in the post race.
Such a decision is unacceptable, that is never a flagrant. I don’t have the reputation of being a dirty player, I didn’t hit him in his private parts. I honestly didn’t even think I committed a foul, these things can’t happen.
The choice was explained in the usual referee report that follows every NBA game. It states that the contact was direct in the groin area so the referees deemed it “excessive and unnecessary,” the two characteristics that lead to awarding a flagrant 2.
Very controversial episode even among Joel Embiid e Nic Claxton. It all starts in the first quarter, with the Nets player finishing an alley-op and then performing a “step over” the opponent who was down. Embiid does not like it and kicks, hitting Claxton. The referees here opt for a flagrant 1 and leave the Sixers star on the floor.
The Cameroonian, when questioned about the incident, glossed over it, pointing out the provocations he received.
You all saw what they did to me for the whole game, they always tried to get me out of control. After the episode in the first quarter I realized that I am too important to the team to get involved in these situations. This is not the first time I have been hit in the back or on the knee without being punished.
In the fourth quarter, with the Nets ahead by 6, came the Claxton’s ejection for added technical fouls.. The second due to a yell in Embiid’s own face after a dunk.
After this last episode the Sixers managed to come back with Embiid decisive in the finale. Lots of recriminations by the Nets regarding the failure to eject the opposing star in the beginning, for a contact that the pundit Charles Barkley deemed more serious than the one between Draymond Green and Domantas Sabonis. On the other hand, the Sixers complain of an excessive measure against Harden.
In the Embiid-Claxton case, however, the contact was deemed venial and based on where it occurred (more on a buttock than groin) not excessive, according to the referee explanation.
In press conference, Nets coach, Jacque Vaughn, made clear his entire opposition.
I have never seen such a thing in my entire career. A player intentionally hitting an opponent in a very sensitive spot and being left on the field, I had never seen that.