Sixers big man Joel Embiid gets wish to guard Celtics PG Isaiah Thomas

BOSTON -- Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid declared at his team's morning shootaround that he wanted the opportunity to guard Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas on a switch during Friday's game. Word got back to Thomas, who happily obliged.

The 5-foot-9 Thomas, coming off a pick-and-roll with teammate Al Horford, raced past Embiid late in the first half and finished an and-1 layup after the 7-foot Embiid fouled from behind while trying to chase him. The force of the contact knocked one of Thomas' shoes off and, as Thomas collected his footwear, he playfully barked at Embiid. The two were all smiles as Embiid slung his arm over Thomas' shoulder after the play.

"[At shootaround], he said he was going to guard me on a switch. I just said, 'Nobody can stop me on a switch, especially not your big ass,'" said Thomas, who scored 24 points while helping Boston rally from as much as a 14-point deficit for a 110-106 triumph.

"[Embiid] started laughing, so I said, 'I seen what you said earlier,' because I got him on one."

Embiid told reporters at Philadelphia's morning shootaround that "I take pride in stopping the other position, especially other point guards. I hope I get switched on to him. He's fast and he's kind of short, so it's harder, but it would be a great test for me."

Embiid helped the 76ers keep Thomas under wraps more than most teams lately. Philadelphia often sent two defenders at Thomas, who has now scored 20 or more points in 20 straight games -- the longest streak in the NBA this season.

Thomas did have a career night for the third straight game, but not in a good way. Last Friday he scored a career-high 52 points against the Heat, and on Tuesday he put up a career-best 15 assists against the Jazz. But on Friday night he matched a career high with seven turnovers.

"They're a pretty good defensive team in the halfcourt," said Thomas. "I just tried to make the right play, and I turned the ball over a little too much. I'm just glad we got the win."

Embiid had a couple of loud dunks against Boston and finished with a team-best 23 points. Embiid is the first 76er since Allen Iverson (2006) to have five straight games of 23 points or more.

And despite barking at him on the court, Thomas gushed about Embiid's potential.

"He's talented. He's going to be special," said Thomas. "He has the right attitude. You can tell from afar he's a workhorse, he's unselfish, he's a big body that can do it all. Once they get some really good pieces around him, they're going to turn it on."

Echoed Celtics guard Avery Bradley: "[Embiid is] special. He has everything. It's almost like you're going to have to double-team him. You're just going to have to double-team him. I see some of the plays that he makes, and he's way ahead of his time. And he's only going to get better. He's a good kid, and he works hard. The sky's the limit for him."

Related Video
Thomas, Embiid sharing a laugh
Thomas, Embiid sharing a laugh
Isaiah Thomas drives to the basket, with Joel Embiid defending him, and hits a tough jumper falling to the hardwood. After Thomas gets back up, he and Embiid share a couple of laughs.
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