INDIANAPOLIS — The Sixers would’ve liked a better result, but Saturday night’s final score took a backseat to what they learned about All-Star center Joel Embiid.
He finally played the second night of a back-to-back and, for the most part, looked pretty good doing it. After slowly acclimating the big man through his first 70 career games, Sixers coach Brett Brown was optimistic after a 100-92 loss at Indiana (see observations).
A night after playing 31 minutes, Embiid was on the court for 34 and finished with a game-high 24 points to complement his 10 rebounds, but also ended up minus-20 with seven turnovers.
Brown will take the good with the bad.
“It just goes to show how dominant Joel can be. He ends up with 24 and 10 rebounds, and you question his impact on the game,” Brown said. “That’s a helluva statement.”
“For him to do that in his first back-to-back, full credit to him. To produce those types of stats in a back-to-back is impressive but it wasn’t Joel Embiid.”
Embiid agreed with the coach after a fourth quarter (four points, two turnovers) that mirrored his teammates’ effort. The Sixers managed just three field goals while turning the ball over six times in the first seven minutes of the final period to help doom themselves to their fourth straight road loss.
“I’m happy that I finally played in a back-to-back but wish we would’ve gotten the win,” Embiid said after his 25th double-double of the season. “I felt like the whole time we were just flat. It’s not to the level we usually play at but overall we didn’t have a good game.
“It just wasn’t our best night.”
Embiid, JJ Redick and Ben Simmons were a combined 14-for-40 from the floor Saturday night and the Pacers, who dropped the Sixers back to the .500 mark with the win, turned the Sixers' 18 turnovers into 22 points.
Still, the final 32 games of the season, which starts with a five-game homestand and legitimate hopes of the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2012, seemed to be the focus.
Brown, who said before Saturday’s game it felt good to not have to alter the plan because he knew he’d have Embiid in the lineup, doesn’t think it’s going to take any getting used to now that it appears the center is ready for a playoff push.
“I think we’ve had enough of a taste of Joel to not have that level of adjustment. I think that it’s only positive; the more he’s with us and playing with us, that’s a good thing,” he said. “We’ve played quite a bit of basketball with him so I don’t feel like there’s any adjustment.
“I feel like we’re going to start to thrive more and more in a very positive way and not speed bumps because we’re now playing with him more.”
The Sixers are at home until the All-Star break. They begin the five-game stretch Tuesday night when Washington visits the Wells Fargo Center.