CLEVELAND — Joel Embiid continues to have a restriction on back-to-back games.
He will not play on Saturday in Cleveland against the Cavaliers (load management) but will be available for Sunday's matchup against the Pelicans in New Orleans. Embiid has not been cleared for consecutive games yet.
Of the two matchups, the Sixers need all the bigs they can have against the Pelicans. At the time of this report, Anthony Davis was eyeing a return from a left adductor strain.
Yes, a team wants its best players on the floor against LeBron James, but a matchup against Davis and DeMarcus Cousins calls for Embiid. Davis averaged 28.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in two games against the Sixers last season (1-1), prior to the Pelicans acquiring Cousins from the Kings.
Either way, Cousins is a handful on his own. He scored 30 points last season with Embiid on the court and then dropped 46 when Embiid was sidelined (left knee).
The Sixers could counter the Pelicans' frontcourt with a big duo of their own. They found success pairing Embiid and Richaun Holmes in their loss to the Lakers Thursday night. Holmes scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter (see story). The two complemented one another with Embiid's ability to spread the floor and Holmes' athleticism to get to the rim.
Sunday's game against All-Star bigs will be a preparation for Tuesday's faceoff with Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves in Minnesota.