NBA playoffs 2019: Joel Embiid is Sixers' 'crown jewel,' Brett Brown says

Joel Embiid turned on the style as the 76ers took a series lead over the Raptors, though it was his defensive work that pleased coach Brett Brown the most.

Embiid led the way with 33 points, 10 rebounds and three assists Thursday in a 116-95 victory for the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center that gave them a 2-1 advantage in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals.

The big man also had five blocks in a key contribution that wasn’t lost on Brown.

“For me, it goes straight to the blocks,” Brown said when asked about Embiid’s performance.

“You know, we can talk about a windmill dunk. You can talk about some finesse post moves and that, but I go to defense. That’s what interests me the most to date with this series. My mind goes straight there.

“He is our crown jewel defensively, and I suppose offensively, too. But certainly defensively. And his rim protection and blocking-shot ability stood out as much to me as anything in an incredible performance.”

Another win at home against the Raptors on Sunday will put the 76ers on the brink of the conference finals for the first time in 18 years and Embiid says they can take their game to another level. 

“Focus on the playoffs and we got a great opportunity on Sunday,” he said. “We got to take care of business.

“It’s great. It’s great. Considering what we’ve been through all these years, we’re here. But we got a lot more to give. We have a chance to accomplish something special, and that’s what I’m focused on.”