Joel Embiid will miss his fifth game of the 2020-21 season Sunday night in Indiana, and his fourth because of back tightness.
The All-Star center acknowledged his back was “pretty tight” following his 37-point, 11-rebound effort in the Sixers’ win Friday night over the Timberwolves.
“You do everything you can,” Embiid said Friday. “Massage, treatment, lifting, cold tub. … The last treatment that I had last night was around 1 a.m., so even if it means not sleeping, just make sure that the body is right. Obviously, sleeping helps a lot, too. But treatment is the first thing. So, little stuff like that matters. You’ve got to keep on going. It’s hard, but that’s what we get paid for — got to do your job.”
The Sixers entered Sunday's game against the Pacers 0-4 without Embiid this season. They’ve won 14 of 16 games he’s played.
Tony Bradley will start in Embiid's place. Head coach Doc Rivers admitted after the Sixers’ loss Monday to the Pistons that he thought he should’ve started Bradley.
“I don’t know if it matters one way or the other,” Rivers said. “They’re both going to play. I actually like Dwight (Howard) playing more with the second group, because that’s what he’s used to. I typically try to do that — keep at least one group together so you don’t change that.”
Mike Scott is the other Sixers rotation player sidelined Sunday night as he’ll miss his eight consecutive game with right knee swelling. Outside of Scott and Embiid, though, the Sixers should have all of their key players available, and Rivers thinks they have the talent required to beat the 11-8 Pacers.
“A win,” he said when asked what he was looking for. “You’ve got to win games without Joel, and we haven’t done that and we haven’t played well — forget the winning part. … There’s going to be games where Joel misses, games where Ben (Simmons) misses, and we have to win these games. So far, we’ve not done well with them.
“Some of those games … we had more than Joel out. We can’t forget that. Seth (Curry) was out, Mike was out, (Furkan Korkmaz) — two or three of those games we had more than just that out. But tonight, we only have Joel out, for the most part. Not having Mike when Joel is not playing hurts us, because we could use Mike as a stretch five, and not having that actually hurts us. But what can you do? Nobody’s going to feel bad for us. I know Indiana’s not.”
The Sixers will have two days off after Sunday’s game, followed by a back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday against the Hornets and Trail Blazers.
“I don’t know that he took a step backwards,” Rivers said of Embiid’s injury. “It’s still sore from the fall. He played through it the other night. It’s not maintenance, but it’s not something that I can see that’s going to take a while.”