Joel Embiid was held scoreless on Monday night as the Philadelphia 76ers fell to the Toronto Raptors 101-96.

Meanwhile, Marc Gasol proved once again that even at age 34, he’s still one of the best big men in the league. Gasol was able to give Embiid problems all night long. In the 32 minutes Embiid played, the All-Star center went 0-11 from the field and 0-3 from the free-throw line — a very uncharacteristic game for the 76ers top gun, who averages 21 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game through 13 contests this season. Gasol has had success against Embiid mainly because of size and length. On most nights, the Cameroonian-born star has a a size advantage against centers in the league and he’s the closest thing to Shaq in his prime that fans have seen in 15 years. It was a different story last night, however, when he was up against a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Could Embiid’s off night have something to do with Drake sitting court-side?  The chart-topping artist and official global ambassador for the Raptors has been known to chirp at opposing teams’ star players and had to be separated from Warriors forward Draymond Green following an NBA Finals game in Toronto last June. Drake was seen last night applauding sarcastically and saying something to Embiid, who was standing near the scorer’s table.

While Drake was yelling on the sideline, Gasol was making things tough for Embiid with his size and length. Gasol constantly forced Embiid to shoot mid-range jumpers and didn’t let him get the ball deep in the post. This shouldn’t come as a shock to fans who watched last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals against Toronto, when Embiid’s conditioning came into question. There were games where he had stomach problems and was even seen eating a burger pre-game during the regular season. The Sixers star delivered a sub-par performance in the six-game series against Toronto, averaging only 17.6 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game, way below his regular season averages of 27.5 points per game and 13.6 rebounds per game.

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Embiid claimed he wasn’t tired Monday night, however.

“I can’t have this type of production. I would have never thought I would be here talking about zero points in an NBA game, but it is what it is,” Embiid told reporters after the game. “Some nights you make shots, some nights you don’t. Some nights you’re hot, some nights you’re cold.”

The Sixers’ front office has praised Embiid’s conditioning regimen this past offseason. Now, we’ll just have to see how his body holds up going forward and into the playoffs.


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