Embiid shows how he can carry a team

by Marc Narducci | Nov 14, 2022
Embiid shows how he can carry a team
Remember when Joel Embiid never played back-to-back games with the 76ers due to fear of injury? While he may still take an occasional day off, Embiid is more than capable of playing and dominating two games in a row.

Take the weekend for example. The Sixers got to .500 at 7-7 with home wins over the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz on Saturday and Sunday.

Embiid, who started slowly this year, may re-enter the MVP conversation after his weekend performance. On Saturday he had 42 points, 10 rebounds, six assists two steals and two blocked shots during a 121-109 win over the Hawks. He shot 14 for 25 from the field, 1 of 6 from three-point range and 13 of 16 from the foul line in 40:01 minutes.

Then on Sunday in a second straight home game, he scored a career-high 59 points during the Sixers’ 105-98 win over the Jazz. Embiid shot 19 for 28, including 1 of 5 from three-point range and 20 of 24 from the foul line. During a fourth quarter for the ages, he scored 26 of the Sixers’ 27 points. In that quarter he shot 7 for 8 from the field (0 for 1 from three-point range) and 12 of 15 from the foul line.

Embiid and the Sixers had gotten off to a slow start, and there were many already writing them off, but this a team that has the ability to go deep in the playoffs, with a lot of ifs attached. If James Harden, who had a strong start before suffering a right foot tendon strain, comes back to his old form (not last year, but prior to that) then the Sixers will be a formidable team.

Embiid also has to stay healthy. Just with those two playing at the top of their game, the Sixers are very dangerous. Throw in the continued development of Tyrese Maxey, the veteran savvy of Tobias Harris and the defense of P.J. Tucker, this is a team nobody will want to meet in the postseason.

When Embiid is dominating, he can cover up some warts. He didn’t come into training camp in the best of shape and later told the media he was experiencing a plantar fasciitis problem in the off-season that slowed him down.

He has missed four of the Sixers first 14 games, three of them with a non-covid illness. In 10 games Embiid is averaging 32.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, but also 4.2 turnovers. The Sixers are just 5-5 in the games he has played. The team gets a breather and doesn’t return to action until hosting the always-dangerous Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

The Bucks and the Boston Celtics are teams in the East that the Sixers are presumably behind, but when Embiid plays the way he did over the weekend, the Sixers can beat anybody. There are still areas that have to be worked out, such as the bench, which hasn’t been overly impressive. Maxey, who has the look of a future All-Star, still must strive for more consistency. Harris has to become a bigger part of the offense.

Still, Embiid gives this team hope. Those who wrote the Sixers off due to their slow start, saw this weekend that when Embiid puts his mind to dominating, the Sixers can play with anybody.

Author: Marc Narducci


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