SAN FRANCISCO — Joel Embiid got a jump-start on trash talking against the Warriors months before their Nov. 11 matchup.
Embiid was at a dinner this past summer with Draymond Green. Embiid got the banter underway when he shared his expectations with one of the league’s most outspoken players.
“I told him that I was going to kick his a--,” Embiid said Friday after practice. “I can’t wait to play against him. I love the way he talks trash. I feel like I’m kind of like the same, so it’s going to be a fun battle.”
Green took Embiid’s comments in stride. They ended up exchanging phone numbers.
“He was just laughing,” Embiid said. “Then he was like, ‘Yeah, right.’ Friendly trash talk.”
Embiid will play against the Warriors for the first time in his career on Saturday. He is looking forward to competing against Green, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
Embiid also has heard about the energy level of the Warriors’ fans inside Oracle Arena and can’t wait to play in that environment. Even if the crowd drowns out the noise on the court, there will be plenty of chatter going on.
“I love doing that,” Embiid said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re my friend or not. I’m always going to talk trash.”
The Sixers could use a strong game from Embiid against the 9-3 Warriors. Even though he’s putting up standout numbers (20.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks per game), Embiid has shot a combined 14 for 35 from the field and committed a total of 11 turnovers in his last two games. He did not play Tuesday against the Jazz.
Any time Embiid shows signs of struggles, eyebrows are raised about his health. Brett Brown acknowledged Embiid experiences “a little bit” of soreness after playing but isn’t worried. Embiid played 32 minutes on Thursday against the Kings.
“I think some of that is just to be expected from a man of 7-foot-2, 280 pounds,” Brown said. “It’s just part of the wear and tear of playing 30-something minutes. You feel that there is soreness. With him, because there have been other injuries, those are exacerbated a little bit. But not to the point where we’re alarmists or anything’s overly concerning. It’s just the whole recovery and maintenance of Joel.”
The big man, who underwent left knee surgery in March, said there’s nothing to fret about.
“I feel great,” Embiid said. “I’m good. Just got to get in shape.”
Embiid is working on his conditioning. He is trying to drop a couple pounds to 280, his weight during the Sixers’ 10-5 month of January. His goal would be 275 pounds.
“My legs wouldn’t feel as heavy as they feel, especially at the end of games,” Embiid said of weight-loss objectives. “I’d get more lift. I’d just be more athletic. This year, I feel like I haven’t been the same defensively, although the numbers say that I’m better than I was last year. … I think I’ll be fine. I’m not worried about it. I’m only playing about 27 minutes and it’s all going to come together.”
A good place for that to happen would be in Oakland.