After Joel Embiid logged 31 minutes on Friday, Brett Brown still plans for the big man to play in his first back-to-back on Saturday in Indiana.
“Oh yeah,” Brown said in response to the question of Embiid’s status.
Embiid was made available to play in consecutive games last weekend. The inaugural series would have been against the Thunder and Bucks, both on the road. In order to play, he had to be cleared after the first game. But Embiid clocked 36 minutes in Oklahoma City and was ruled out the following day.
“I feel like I’ve been ready but the team had other plans,” Embiid said. “Last week was a possibility but they decided to back away from it. But I’m glad I’ll get the opportunity to do it. Now I’m going to feel like an NBA player.”
Brown does not try to restrict Embiid in the first of the two games. He said prior to the Sixers’ matchup against the Heat that he was going to play Embiid so they have the best chance to win. They did that with a 103-97 victory (see observations). Embiid recorded his 24th double-double of the season (17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three blocks).
“The fact that we did win, the fact that Joel is going to play, I will look at this win in a different lens as soon as I get into my car,” Brown said. “But I am excited to have Joel in his first back-to-back.”
Embiid had to go through a program of games, shootarounds, practices and off-day workouts in order to be made available. He has been looking forward to playing in consecutive games since last season. For him it’s not just about playing because he loves to do it; he expects it will help his game in the long run.
“Taking days off in the NBA is not that easy,” Embiid said. “It’s just getting in a rhythm.”
The Sixers, who face the Pacers in Indiana on Saturday, know how to win with Embiid. Winning without him has been a different story. The 25-24 Sixers are 2-8 when he does not play.
“We're in a rhythm now,” Ben Simmons said. “It's tough when [he] comes out and we've got to get back into another rhythm, but it's going to be good having him.”