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Joel Embiid downplays outburst after 76ers teammate Ben Simmons hits him in face chasing rebound

For everything going on with them, the 76ers’ biggest long-term issue might be how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons fit together.

They’re both young, talented and under team control for several more years. Their upside as a pairing is immense.

But there are also questions about their match. Neither shoots willingly from outside. Both express cockiness that might not neatly lend itself to sharing a team.

So, potentially minor fissures between the two deserve scrutiny. Like Embiid and Simmons competing with each other for a rebound during Philadelphia’s win over the Clippers yesterday. Simmons hit Embiid in the face, and Embiid profanely lashed out.

Embiid, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“I felt an elbow on my face and I kind of freaked out because that’s the same face I had the surgery on,” Embiid said. “But it was a basketball play, nothing to talk about.”

Embiid suffered an orbital fracture last season. His concern was understandable.

It’s important to distinguish reactions in the heat of the moment from cooler reflections afterward. However mad he was at Simmons, Embiid didn’t want to further the feud. That matters.

But it’s also possible to see both players continuing to chase stats, including rebounds, sometimes at the expense of the other. Even if this ends this specific clash, it doesn’t necessarily end issues to manage between these two players.