The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to welcome their MVP center back on Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Joel Embiid has been nursing a bone bruise in his knee since March 12, but the team announced he’s been responding well to on-court work and conditioning.
The Sixers have gone 9-3 in Embiid’s absence, including posting a 4-2 record on their recently completed road trip. No small feat considering the All-Star big man was the leading candidate for NBA MVP. He is averaging 29.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 blocks in 31 games this season. Philadelphia has been starting Mike Scott in his place after trading Tony Bradley away, with Dwight Howard getting huge minutes off the bench.
Official @sixers update:
Joel Embiid is out tomorrow at Cleveland. He is responding well to on-court work and conditioning and is expected to return to play this weekend. An update will be provided on Friday.
— Lauren Rosen (@LaurenMRosen) April 1, 2021
Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds in 26 minutes on Thursday night in a 114-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The entire Sixers bench was crucial in the victory as they accounted for 57% of the team’s total offense (65 points). Shake Milton scored a game-high 27 points while Matisse Thybulle continued his case for Defensive Player of the Year.
“I was extremely proud,” Sixers forward Tobias Harris said. “I think them just coming in there and imposing their will defensively and being scrappy. Just having that energy.”
It’s only going to get better when Embiid returns from injury. Head coach Doc Rivers was asked how the offense has changed without Embiid in the lineup and, surprisingly, he didn’t see much difference.
“I mean, we didn’t really change much. I just think the stretch of playing without him, other guys have kind of found their niche a little bit,” Rivers said. “When he’s on the floor I think we’ll have a better idea of what to run, having him in makes our second unit deeper as well.”
27 PTS | 5 REB | 4 AST
Another night where @SniperShake dominated off the bench.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 2, 2021
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