After playing the Sixers’ first 26 games this season, Joel Embiid was in danger of missing two straight.
Embiid sat out practice Sunday and his status for Monday night’s game over the Pistons was up in the air.
“I had a migraine and diarrhea,” Embiid said.
Monday night understandably wasn’t his best performance, but Embiid’s presence was still valuable for the Sixers in a 116-102 win over Detroit. He had 24 points on 6 for 16 shooting, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals, finishing a game-high plus-30.
Embiid admitted after the game that dealing with a migraine and, as head coach Brett Brown more delicately put it, “flu-like symptoms” before the game affected him.
“I was definitely rusty,” Embiid said. “I was kind of tired. I was frustrated with them resting me [Friday] because I usually get out of shape so fast, even if I miss a day or two, so I was kind of tired. As the game kept going, I started feeling more comfortable with the help of my teammates, especially [Furkan Korkmaz] and we got the win.”
Korkmaz sat next to Embiid at the podium, a rare occurrence for the second-year guard. His spot there was justified, too — his career-high 18 points were an important contribution for the Sixers with Jimmy Butler sidelined by a strained groin. Butler left the game early in the second quarter and did not return.
“He’s got an inner belief,” Brown said of Korkmaz. “There is a swagger that he has where he may miss a lot of shots, he may make a lot of shots, but there really isn’t sort of a trepidation, a back down in Furkan. I thought he just played the game well and played it with a lot of confidence.”
Heading into Monday’s game, though, Korkmaz wasn’t grabbing many headlines. Perhaps the biggest buzz around the Sixers surrounded Embiid’s recent comments about being frustrated with his role in the offense.
Not the type to dance around an issue, Embiid addressed those remarks, explaining they stemmed from his frustration at his recent slump.
That was just me frustrated with the way I was playing. I know everybody took it out of context, but I love everybody; I love my teammates, I love the coaching staff, and I think everybody that knows me knows that. Me being frustrated because I hold myself to a really high standard played a role in whatever that was said. But I had a conversation with Coach. It starts with me. There’s a lot of adjustments that we can all make, but it’s just the frustration.
I’ve never really been in that situation. Usually if I’m in a slump, it’s two or three games, but I feel like it’s been going on for, I don’t know, 10 games. But also it’s because I hold myself to a certain standard. But it’s the past, we’ve moved on, and everything is great.
Embiid’s perception that he's been in a slump his last 10 games says a lot about his personal expectations. He averaged 24.3 points on 44.6 percent shooting, 13.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in his previous 10 games. Those numbers are below his season averages, but they’re not what many players would categorize as a slump.
For Embiid, though, there’s no question he hasn’t quite been himself recently. Perhaps a win over Andre Drummond (and a late technical foul drawn on the Pistons’ big man) will spark a return to form.
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