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Sixers coach Doc Rivers calls off officials after controversial tackle calls to James Harden and Joel Embiid

Sixers coach Doc Rivers calls off officials after controversial tackle calls to James Harden and Joel Embiid

NEW YORK – Doc Rivers has been a major voice in the NBA for quite some time. The 76ers coach is a perennial player in the league who isn’t afraid to speak out about what he views as injustice. He’s also smart enough to navigate any scenario with charm and – when needed – cash.

On Friday, the subject on which Rivers focused his gaze was the officiant. Rivers tackled Joel Embiid’s 1-out foul, a offense received for his response to Brooklyn Nets center Nick Claxton. Rivers also called James Harden a 2 foul, which got him fired, as a joke.

Read more: Sixers star James Harden called his Flagrant 2 foul and Game 3 eviction ‘unacceptable’

Harden will be available for Game 4 Saturday at Barclays Center as the Sixers look to complete the sweep. However, league sources confirmed to The Inquirer that Embiid would miss the game due to a right knee sprain.

The NBA decided not to seek further action against Embiid or Harden, a decision that followed the NBA’s move to suspend Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green for stepping on the box of Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis.

“I didn’t think that Draymond should have been suspended, and I think the league is setting a very dangerous precedent right now,” said Rivers, who spent 37 seasons in the NBA as a player and coach. “It’s not me campaigning, and I’m very serious. And I said it yesterday before. I wish I’d said it louder. But if we’re going to start punishing the Avengers and not the agitators, then we have a problem in this league.”

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It was clear that the Nets’ tactic was to mess with Embiid, and Rivers was concerned with teams targeting top players by instigating their firing. This is believed to be what happened to Green’s loss in Warriors’ Game 2 to the Kings.

“Draymond Green stepped on a man’s chest because he was holding his foot,” Rivers said. “The agitator was holding his foot.”

Sixers center Joel Embiid shoots at Brooklyn Nets forward Michal Bridges and quarterback Nick Claxton during Game 3 of the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs..Read moreYoung Kim / Staff Photographer

Rivers even called out Nets coach Jack Vaughn, who coached him with the Orlando Magic. Vaughn said Embiid should have been ejected for kicking Claxton in the groin early in Game 3.

“As a coach, and I love Jack,” Rivers said, “but I can’t believe we have coaches who call guys out to not play.” “It’s crazy for me. I’ve been a player, this is a two-player league and I’m a 100% professional player. I think players should play in matches.

“We talk all year about the fans not being happy about the players they’re playing, and now we’re taking players out of the playoffs.”

Claxton started the incident after diving Embiid just two minutes, 26 seconds into the game. The Nets center pushed an off-kilter Embiid down the field on the play, then Claxton stood on top of him. Embiid responded with a kick that appeared to miss the intended target.

“If I’m in a park…and you stand on top of me, we’re going to get in trouble,” Rivers said. “I didn’t grow up in an age of sticks and stone. I grew up in an age of broken bones, so it’s a little bit different. That said, these people know they can do it because they probably know you can’t do anything.”

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“I mean, I don’t pick Claxton. But I don’t think Park, he’s standing close to Joel. But when you’ve got the referee and everyone else there, you know nothing’s going to happen.”

Read more: After nearly getting knocked out of Game 3, Joel Embiid is lucky to learn from the win

Regarding Harden, the coach said he hasn’t seen any foul play yet.

But the guard received a Flagrant 2 foul and headed to the locker room early after Brooklyn Nets swing man Royce O’Neal elbowed him in the groin with 13.6 seconds left in the third quarter.

Harden was originally called for an offensive foul, but the offense was upgraded after the officials reviewed the play.

“The problem I have with James being fired, there were three officials and at least one or two people in Secaucus [N.J., at the NBA Replay Center]And that’s what they came up with,” Rivers said. “I just can’t make sense of it.”

Read more: Sixers vs. Brooklyn Nets Game 3 Takeaways: Tyrese Maxey featured; Desperate curling. Sixers are flexible

Embiid’s Flagrant 1 could have gone either way, Rivers admitted. However, Ambiid is believed to have kicked him in the leg rather than in the thighs. The coach said he did not know Embiid’s intended target.

He said, “But don’t stand on top of me.” “It’s like we have these unwritten rules in hockey…we need to create some in our league, and one of them is you don’t get close to the guy and stand over it. You just don’t do all that.”

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