Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics is a must-win for the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid.
The 76ers lost Game 6 at home on Thursday, 86-95, despite having a two-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Doc Rivers’ team scored just 11 points in the final 12 minutes and now have to beat the Celtics on the road on Saturday.
READ MORE: Joel Embiid names 3 things that caused 76ers to lose Game 6
They will go into the game at TD Garden as massive underdogs but they have already won there earlier in the series – without Embiid.
James Harden dropped 45 points, including the game-winning three-pointer in overtime, as the visitors won Game 2.
Now it is Embiid’s turn to will his team to victory – here’s why.
Why Game 7 is a must-win for Embiid
The 2022-23 Most Valuable Player is the best player in NBA history to have never made the Conference Finals – that is not a list you want to be on top of.
He had a great chance to overcome that in Game 6 but the 76ers’ fourth-quarter meltdown meant that it wasn’t to be.
Embiid now faces the much tougher task of winning on the road, in a game which will define his basketball legacy.
The 29-year-old is expected to put up the 33 points and 10 rebounds, as well as excellent defence, that he averaged in the regular season.
Is that too much to ask? Well, when the man he beat to the MVP award, Nikola Jokic, has just made the Conference Finals for a second time while near enough averaging 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, not at all.
In fact, the Embiid/Jokic debate, which has been going on for three seasons now, would come to an end with a Celtics win on Saturday.
Another Semifinals loss would make it impossible to call him the best center in the game, let alone the best of any position.
Not to mention, Harden’s 76ers future is up in the air, with reports that he could be heading back to the Houston Rockets this offseason.
The Beard’s departure would all but end Embiid’s hopes of making a deep postseason run in the foreseeable future, thus preventing him from re-entering the conversation of the best player in basketball.
There’s no time like the present.