NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert took exception to Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons laughing when Embiid apologized for elbowing Jarrett Allen in Game 2 of their playoff series.
“We didn’t really like that. We thought that was kind of disrespectful, especially after the elbow he threw,” LeVert said after the Nets practiced Wednesday. “It is what it is. There’s no love lost. It’s a playoff series. We expect that.”
Embiid’s elbow to Allen’s face late in the first half of the Sixers’ Game 2 win was ruled a flagrant foul.
Embiid apologized for the elbow during his postgame news conference and said it wasn’t intentional. As Embiid relayed the apology, he and Simmons started laughing.
“I’m not usually humble. That’s why he’s laughing,” Embiid said during the news conference. “But, yeah, I was just trying to be aggressive.”
Asked Wednesday if he believed Embiid’s explanation about the laughter, Nets veteran Jared Dudley said, “I just buy him being a silly guy. He’s a carefree guy. I don’t think he was intentionally going to hit him, but any time you throw your ‘bows like that, you put yourself out there.”
Some Nets, including Allen, downplayed any ill feelings over Embiid and Simmons’ laughing.
“Two young guys doing, saying whatever they said in the moment. It is what it is,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “It’s not something that we can play into, right, because if we get into a physicality match, if [Allen] throws the same elbow and hits Joel, he’s getting ejected. That’s just kind of what it is. We can’t play that game.”
But Dudley, who will return for Game 3 after missing Game 2 with a calf injury, made it clear that it didn’t sit well with him.
“I felt a certain type of way for it just because you’re laughing and someone could have really gotten hurt,” Dudley said. “Now, luckily, Jay did pop up. That’s been Embiid’s personality, but just because it’s your personality doesn’t mean it’s right. So for us, you can either get even however you want to do it, but the biggest thing for us to get even is winning Game 3.”
After winning Game 1, the Nets allowed the third-seeded Sixers to reel off 51 points in the third quarter of Game 2, which Philadelphia went on to win 145-123. Game 3 is Thursday night in Brooklyn, the franchise’s first home playoff game in four years.
LeVert was asked Wednesday if the laughing provided any added motivation for the sixth-seeded Nets.
“I feel like it’s the playoffs now. If you don’t have that extra motivation going into it, then you’re a step behind,” the guard said. “I don’t think that’s extra motivation. I think we already want to beat those guys bad enough as it is.”