There may not be an "I" in "team," but there are two of them in "Embiid," and on Wednesday, the 76ers needed both as their star center kept them in a tight game against the Phoenix Suns practically by himself. Joel Embiid scored 38 points, pulled in 17 rebounds and dished out four assists with Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris out, but the biggest play of the night may have been the one that he didn't make.
It would have been the culmination of one of the great one-man comebacks in NBA history. With the 76ers trailing by eight with under two minutes to go, Embiid scored nine consecutive points to cut Phoenix's lead to three. Two Suns free-throws were followed by a Furkan Korkmaz 3-pointer and another intentional foul. Chris Paul made the first free throw but missed the second. Embiid got the rebound, but at that point, only 0.8 seconds remained on the clock. He had no choice but to hoist a full-court shotput of an attempt. It went in and out as Embiid came inches short of one of the greatest shots in NBA history.
Embiid has been sensational in the clutch this season, averaging 4.1 points per game in league-defined clutch situations, but this would have been an entirely different level. It would have been the best shot of his career at a bare minimum, and it would have had enormous value to a 76ers team still fighting for home-court advantage. The 76ers still lead the Nets by one game in the loss column for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed, but every win counts, and Philly missed the chance to expand its lead in this one.
And Embiid missed the chance to give himself an MVP moment. Having missed 18 games this season, most voters appear to be leaning towards Nikola Jokic over Embiid for the NBA's top individual award this season. A shot like this would have turned heads. But alas, Embiid came up just short. Even he wasn't enough to beat the Suns by himself.