The Philadelphia 76ers departed from Phoenix on Sunday night with a 123-110 victory, but they also left with an injured center. Joel Embiid fell on his right hand, but the X-rays came back negative, saying the injury was “just a sprain.”
In 31 minutes of action, Embiid poured in 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists and recorded a plus/minus of plus-32. It was the Sixers’ third win in four games, which follows five-game losing streak from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23. After the play, Embiid, 23, stayed in and finished the contest.
“It was numb, but I’m a warrior, I want to push this stuff. I wanted to be on the court to win the game.”
Philadelphia hasn’t fared well when Embiid doesn’t play. He’s suited up for 27 games this season, but the Sixers are 2-7 in the nine that’s he’s missed. And the dropoff is noticeable. According to Basketball Reference, the team’s offensive rating falls by 6.6 points per 100 possessions to 102.8, and their defensive rating inflates to 112.0 points per 100 when Embiid sits.
As we all know, the former lottery pick has dealt with his share of injuries. He missed his first two NBA seasons entirely while dealing with a myriad of ailments, and let’s not forget he only appeared in 31 games during his rookie season. Both the coaching and medical staffs have become a little more lenient with when and how long their star center plays, but the leash isn’t off fully.
Embiid is still sometimes questionable for back-to-backs, and he sat out three games following Philadelphia’s triple-overtime marathon against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Regardless of when Joel Embiid plays, however, he’s producing. His points (23.9), rebounds (10.9) and assist (3.5) averages are all up, and, more importantly, his minutes (31.3) have seen a dramatic increase. He’s also shooting 48.6 percent from the field despite a piddling 30.1 percent from three.