Joel Embiid has done everything he could to lead the 76ers this season, but the battered big man isn’t getting any support when he needs it most.
On Tuesday, Miami routed Philly by 35 points to take a 3-2 series lead, and the Sixers extended a dubious streak — all three losses have been by double-digits. Embiid, who missed the first two games of the series with an orbital fracture, scored just 17 points — and received next to no help from his teammates, including James Harden.
For a team whose $149 million payroll is the seventh-highest in the NBA and has minimal financial flexibility going forward, it’s looking like another wasted season amid Embiid’s prime.
- Embiid was a finalist for MVP and won the NBA scoring title (30.6 PPG) — the Sixers were 31-16 when he was the only star this season, before the Harden trade.
- Harden — who’s slated for a $270 million extension — scored 14 points on 5-13 shooting in Game 5.
- Tobias Harris (17.2 PPG in the playoffs) hasn’t lived up to expectations despite being the team’s second-highest-paid player ($36M) — but is still owed $76.9 million over the next two seasons.
There’s only so much Embiid can do alone, and beyond Tyrese Maxey — a second-year guard chipping in 20.8 PPG on 49.4% shooting — his teammates aren’t stepping up.
Meanwhile, Miami’s Jimmy Butler — the second star on a 2018-19 Sixers team that made the Eastern Conference semifinals — is fourth in scoring this postseason (28.3 PPG).
The well-rounded Heat have exposed serious cracks in the Sixers’ foundation — Philly (+300) is a heavy underdog to win the series.