Joel Embiid on Rudy Gobert Matchup: 'Looks Like I Was Very, Very Scared of Him'

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 4, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid reacts after a basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Joel Embiid had no problem handling a matchup with Rudy Gobert as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Utah Jazz in overtime, 131-123, on Wednesday.  

After missing an earlier game between the two teams this season, Embiid dropped 40 points on Gobert, who is making a case to earn his third Defensive Player of the Year award. 

In response to what Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice said were "specific claims" that he was afraid of Gobert, the 76ers big man brushed it off.

"It looks like I was very, very scared of him, so keep talking," he said. 

In February, when Embiid missed a 134-123 loss to the Jazz due to his back injury, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that Embiid was "missing solid head-to-head matchups against elite centers," including Gobert, Andre Drummond and Nikola Jokic. 

But Embiid, a two-time All-Defensive selection, certainly showed up Wednesday.

Though he had been limited to just 29 games this season entering Wednesday, he's posted a career-high 29.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per contest when healthy. Gobert, a four-time All-Defensive selection, was tallying 14.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game through 35 outings.

In the head-to-head matchup Wednesday, Gobert simply couldn't keep up.

It's no surprise for Embiid, whose mindset seems to explain it all.

"This year I want to destroy everything in my path," he said.