Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid had defied the recent trend away from traditional post-up big men in the NBA with a remarkable season.
During the regular season, Embiid averaged 0.97 points per possession when posting up for the Sixers. He was 196-of-392 (50.0 percent) on post-up possessions, which ranked No. 7 overall among those with at least 150 opportunities. He led the league with 9.4 post-up possessions per game.
He averaged 1.10 PPP when facing up on the left block, which ranked fourth-best (minimum: 15 possessions). His overall efficiency on the left block ranked fourth-best (minimum: 40 possessions) among all players in the Eastern Conference.
Embiid, however, has averaged just 0.71 points per possession on post-up opportunities during the playoffs and has struggled against the Boston Celtics in the second round.
He has still averaged 10.2 post-up possessions per game, which is more than all players who appeared in the postseason except for San Antonio Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge. But he is 14-for-42 (33.3 percent) on these attempts, which makes his field goal percentage lower than all but just three players (minimum: 10 possessions).
The big man is 0-for-10 when facing up on the left block during the first two rounds of the playoffs. He is 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) overall on the left block, which ranks second-worst among those who have qualified on this play type in the postseason.
His points per post touch (0.39) rank seventh-worst in the postseason among those with more than two post-ups per game during the playoffs. It’s a drastic change of pace from his efficiency (0.66) in the regular season when he was No. 9 overall on these plays.
Boston has allowed just 0.81 PPP on post-up plays in the postseason, which is the third-best among all playoff teams. Their defensive tenacity has been a primary reason why they have been able to take a three-game advantage over Philadelphia.