76ers

Brett Brown insists Joel Embiid has 'real desire' to be at career-best weight

Brett Brown insists Joel Embiid has 'real desire' to be at career-best weight

Death, taxes and Brett Brown being asked about the health and fitness level of Joel Embiid. It’s just inevitable.

There’s a reason for it, though. Embiid has battled through injuries since even before his Sixers career started. He’s also received plenty of criticism for his conditioning level seeming to lack at times.

There’s an argument to be made that a fully healthy Embiid gets the Sixers past the Raptors in the playoffs last year. Who knows what happens after that.

None of that is lost on his head coach — or Embiid himself.

“Joel's always a topic,” Brown said in a video conference with reporters Friday. “We get it. The importance that he represents as being a complete parallel to can you win a championship or not, is real. 

“I've had many conversations with Jo. I spoke with him 30 minutes ago, and he's got a real desire to be at a playing weight that equals his best since he's been in the league.”

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That means it’s been over two months since Embiid has played an actual basketball game. With that comes questions about where Embiid will be from a fitness standpoint if/when the league resumes play.

At this point, teams may have to prepare as if they’re going to start the playoffs immediately with a small ramp-up period prior. That’s what Brown is preparing for and the scenario he believes Embiid is preparing for as well.

“I feel, like this year [he's] averaging 30 minutes and last year he's at 34. Really, if the playoffs started pick whatever date you want to choose, my ideal thing is I want to play him about 38 minutes. I really would. In a playoff situation, as the head coach, that's my ideal number. In the regular season, you bring him along and so I think 30 was the number this year that he ended up, but possibly [this break could be helpful].”

The trio of Embiid, Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson has missed a combined 49 games this season. Brown said that he’s told his coaches and players that when/if play resumes, there are no excuses, but health is a factor for any team trying to compete for a championship.

We’ve heard the refrain over and over again from Brown and general manager Elton Brand: “This team is built for the playoffs.” Both stuck by that sentiment in their recent availabilities. Brown thinks he can unlock much more with a healthy version of this Sixers team.

Still, all of it revolves around Embiid.

“I feel like Joel is completely — and this is good,” Brown said, “Joel is completely aware that kind of as he goes with his health and his fitness, we go.”

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Joel Embiid shows up to airport in hazmat suit as Sixers depart for Disney World

Joel Embiid shows up to airport in hazmat suit as Sixers depart for Disney World

Nobody will ever question whether Joel Embiid has a sense of humor.

A couple days after stating that he "hated the idea" of the NBA’s bubble in Disney World, the All-Star center showed up to the airport wearing what appears to be a hazmat suit (see video above).

The Sixers are departing for Florida where they will begin a short training camp. They’ll play three scrimmages and eight seeding games before the playoffs begin.

Embiid on Tuesday voiced his displeasure with the idea but explained why he decided to play.

“Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the idea," Embiid said. "But then again, I’m going to do my job. I’m not going to let the city down. I’m going to represent my city — that’s what I’ve always done — my family, my teammates. The mindset doesn’t change.”

The Sixers' first seeding game will be against the Indiana Pacers on Aug. 1.

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Sixers release hype video of sorts before NBA restart at Disney World

Sixers release hype video of sorts before NBA restart at Disney World

NBA teams don’t usually release hype videos 65 games into the regular season.

The Sixers did on Thursday, however. That seems an appropriate way to label the video the team put out on social media ahead of its departure for Orlando for the NBA’s planned resumption. It contains footage of players working out at the team’s practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, during the NBA’s Phase 2 protocol, as well as some of the more confident remarks from players during video conference calls with reporters over the last week. Tobias Harris chucking a medicine ball against a wall is an especially striking image. 

“The way that I look at it is we have another opportunity,” Al Horford says over footage of him sinking a jumper. “I believe that our group is built for the playoffs.”

Horford is among the players who noted the NBA’s hiatus was beneficial in terms of health. He’s also far from the first Sixer to insist this season that the team is constructed to succeed in the postseason.

The 39-26 Sixers are sixth in the Eastern Conference. They’re scheduled to resume play on Aug. 1 against the Pacers (see game-by-game predictions).

Though the video is a bit less energetic and more reserved than the typical hype video — which makes sense as the NBA attempts to play through a pandemic — it does convey a belief that the team’s inability to meet expectations before the hiatus is no longer relevant. 

If the league’s health and safety measures are effective, we’ll get to see if that’s actually the case. 

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