After missing nine games due to a case of COVID-19, Sixers center Joel Embiid had a huge game in his first night back on Saturday, racking up 42 points and 14 rebounds. However, he struggled on Monday and again on Wednesday, scoring a total of 29 points on just 7-of-33 shooting in a win over Orlando and a loss to Boston.
Embiid said after Wednesday’s game that he feels like he’s still rounding into form again following his COVID-related absence, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays.
“I would never use it as an excuse but obviously I think it’s going to take me awhile to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that stuff,” Embiid said. “But every single day I got to keep working hard, and keep getting better.”
Head coach Doc Rivers acknowledged after Wednesday’s loss that Philadelphia needs improved shooting from Embiid, but said the issues on offense extend beyond the team’s star center.
“We’ve got to get Joel going,” Rivers said. “We get him going, the whole team gets going. That’s the number one thing. But that’s two games in a row I thought the offense was lackluster. Execution is really bad right now. But, again, I’m not concerned by it. We’re going to get through it. It’s just that we’re dropping games while we’re getting through it.”
Here’s more on the Sixers:
- Asked on Wednesday about the Ben Simmons situation, Rivers said it’s not an issue that’s at the front of his mind. “I literally don’t even talk about it,” Rivers said (Twitter link via Justin Grasso of SI.com). “I coach the team and the guys that I can see every day. I let (president of basketball operations) Daryl (Morey) and (GM) Elton (Brand) deal with all of the other stuff.”
- Speaking to Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire, veteran center Andre Drummond said he has loved his time in Philadelphia so far and dismissed the idea that he ever had any “real beef” with Embiid.
- Al Horford only spent one season with the 76ers after signing a four-year, $97MM deal with the team in 2019. He wasn’t a fit in Philadelphia and admitted on Wednesday when his Celtics faced the Sixers that 2019/20 was a “difficult year” for him, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “No question about it,” Horford said when asked if his reputation took a hit during his time with the Sixers. “But it’s everything on me. It was my decision to leave [the Celtics], and it was like, ‘How are you going to respond when you’re faced with adversity?’ Being down, being talked down about and those things. I was written off, and I’m glad I got another opportunity in a place where I want to be.”