Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Sixers, Holiday, Celtics, Raptors

While some star players may play reduced roles in the final days of the regular season to ensure they’re fresh for the postseason, Sixers center Joel Embiid is looking to go in the opposite direction. After logging nearly 36 minutes on Tuesday in his fourth game back following a knee procedure, Embiid suggested he’d welcome a big workload again on Friday and Sunday, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required).

“Playing as many minutes as possible,” Embiid said when asked what he needs to do to get ready for the playoffs. “.. The next one, I hope the game’s not close, but if it is, to go over that 35-minute mark. Try and get to 40 and then the last game of the season, same thing.”

While the 76ers won’t want to push their franchise player too hard so soon after his return, they’re still battling for positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race and have a chance to claim a top-six spot with victories in their final two games. Embiid is also still working on getting his conditioning back to its pre-injury level and may get a chance this weekend to build chemistry with a relatively healthy Sixers roster.

“We haven’t played with the full crew yet,” Nicolas Batum said on Tuesday, according to Pompey. “I think the next game will be finally the one. We will have Tyrese (Maxey) and KL (Kyle Lowry) back. We got Joel. We just miss RoCo (Robert Covington). … I think we are more focused on (players returning than seeding). We are focused on how we can be the best team past (Sunday).”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • In a mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required), Pompey addresses several Sixers-related topics, indicating that he doesn’t expect Tobias Harris to be moved to the bench and confirming that Paul George is expected to be the team’s top free agent target this offseason.
  • Jrue Holiday will turn 34 this June, so he knows that the four-year, $135MM extension he signed with the Celtics this week could be his last NBA contract, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Holiday said it was a “pretty easy” decision to sign that deal and to remain in Boston. “I think mutually we just came to an agreement and felt like this was what was best for not only me, but for the team and, just hope it works,” Holiday said. “I want to be here. I want to win multiple rings. I’ve heard people say that here plenty of times, so I’m ready for that.”
  • Holiday’s extension ensures that the Celtics‘ top six players will be under contract for next season and reduces the team’s projected 2025 tax bill, but it raises some questions about the club’s long-term cap situation, according to Brian Robb of, who explores the possibility of an eventual extension for Derrick White and considers how long Boston can keep its core intact.
  • Who’s to blame for a miserable Raptors season? Michael Grange of explores that question, ultimately suggesting that Toronto’s front office probably deserves more criticism than it has received for the current state of the team.
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