The Sixers’ starting lineup for Game 1 of a five-game road trip did not include their All-Star big man.
Joel Embiid was ruled out Wednesday night for the Sixers’ matchup with the Heat in Miami because of left foot soreness. Veteran Sixers center Deawyne Dedmon remained out with left hip soreness. Miami's Kyle Lowry (left knee soreness) is still sidelined, too.
Before Wednesday, Embiid had played in 20 of the Sixers’ last 21 games. In 48 games overall this season, he’s posted an Eastern Conference-best 33.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 blocks.
The Sixers moved Tyrese Maxey into the starting lineup and played PJ Tucker at center, which worked out very well. Maxey went on to score a game-high 27 points in a blowout win.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said before Monday’s home loss to the Heat that the team doesn’t plan to use Tucker much at the five during the regular season, but “we feel strongly about that moving into the playoffs.” According to Cleaning the Glass, the Sixers’ small-ball, three-guard starting five entered Wednesday’s game with a plus-15.0 net rating in the small sample size of 149 possessions. Both Tucker and the guard trio impressed in a Halloween win over the Wizards.
Embiid said before the All-Star break that he was “not healthy” though he ultimately took part in the All-Star Game. He then averaged 37.3 minutes per night in the Sixers' three games immediately following the break.
“I believe in myself,” Embiid said Monday. “I believe that I’ve put in a lot of work and, like I said, no freak injuries and I’ll be fine. I believe that we as a team have everything we need. It’s all about everybody being on point, everybody doing their job. … I believe in myself and I believe in us.”
The Sixers are set to face the Mavericks on Thursday to conclude the first of two back-to-backs on this road trip. They’ll finish the trip with games against Milwaukee, Indiana and Minnesota.