He and Hanlen knew that in the Sixers’ egalitarian offense, Embiid would often be stationed on the perimeter—“Lots of people can run stuff from that top spot,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said—so they were working on attacking and shooting over closeouts.
He doesn’t leave himself any room to maneuver and struggles reading the floor (among all players who averaged four or more drives per game, only Chandler Parsons turned the ball over more frequently, perNBA.com).
On the next play, Embiid, who had only started playing basketball three years earlier, faked a pass, faked a shot, drove the ball to the hoop and threw down a dunk.
And so as Embiid caught the ball above the three-point arc late in Game 2, he knew his customary slow-motion pump fake wouldn’t work.
It never has against Gasol, who rarely leaves his feet before a shooter does, a skill that’s helped him limit Embiid to 34.5 percent shooting in head-to-head matchups over the previous two years.