Months after preseason social media back-and-forth, Hassan Whiteside and Joel Embiid meet again Friday

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers drives toward the basket as Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat of the Miami Heat defends during the game Friday at Sprint Center in Kansas City, (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA — Even if Hassan Whiteside doesn’t want to admit it, his matchup with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid on Friday is different than the rest.

That’s because things got personal between the two centers during a Heat-76ers preseason game on Oct. 13. The night began when Whiteside committed three fouls within the first three minutes of the contest, and Embiid gestured to the Heat bench to remove Whiteside from the game because Whiteside couldn’t guard him.

It continued on social media after that game, as Whiteside responded to a Twitter post that included Embiid’s in-game antics directed at Whiteside. “Funny how y’all don’t show me telling him the same and 1-7 shooting or the first 2 flops I mean blocks. Lol y’all fan boys I swear,” Whiteside tweeted after that preseason contest.

Embiid responded by tweeting: “Dude they had to take your [butt] out or you would’ve fouled out in 5 min. … And we’re talking about Preseason, not regular season… #Softy.”

Then Embiid went on to tweet: “And keep caring about stats and not your team success … your +/- was [butt] @youngwhiteside #Softy.”

Whiteside went back at Embiid on Twitter: “31 games in 3yrs Hopefully I get to see you regular season #SolarEclipse #EmbiidEclipse.”

Well, Whiteside is expected to see Embiid for the first time since that Twitter back-and-forth on Friday. Are they on good terms four months after their preseason social media spat?

“Um, I don’t know,” Whiteside said. “I haven’t talked to Joel. I don’t know. It’s just another opponent.”

Embiid was voted into the All-Star game as a starter. In fact, Whiteside will go against two Eastern Conference All-Star centers in consecutive games with Saturday’s game against the Pistons on deck.

Does that add extra motivation for Whiteside over the next two games?

“It’s always a great matchup,” he said. “But I don’t get caught up into the matchup as much as winning. If a couple extra plays are there that will get us the win, that’s what I’m more concerned about.”

Whiteside is averaging 14.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 33 games this season. He’s missed 18 games due to two different bone bruises in his left knee.

Embiid is averaging 23.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 blocks in 38 games this season.

“He’s going to talk junk regardless if he wins or lose,” Whiteside said of Embiid. “He just likes talking trash.”

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