Sixers

Load management should be a thing of the past for Embiid

Sixers

The 2020-21 Sixers season has started off strong. Two wins against inferior opponents, for certain, but plenty to build on. Each season brings a new iteration of this franchise, and this year even more so — not just new players, but a new head coach, and a new boss overseeing it all.

Amid the perennial changes, the man in the middle, Joel Embiid, remains the same.

Sunday night marks the back end of the first back-to-back for the Sixers this young season. Over the first 36 games, they have six instances where they will play on consecutive nights.

In years past, a back-to-back often meant one of those games would be played without Embiid’s services. “Load Management,” they said. “Saving him for the deep playoff run,” they said. 

If this new power structure does nothing else, they should observe this mantra: 

No Nights Off.

That means no nights off, as in no more load management.

For decades, coaches and players have been able to deal with the rigors of an NBA season. This season isn’t even 82 games – right now each team will play 72, and even that number could be curtailed by the potential of a coronavirus flare-up.

The league will reportedly take action on this in certain situations by severely fining teams that rest players for game set to be on national TV. Sunday night's game does not fit that description.

Head coach Doc Rivers did well to limit Embiid’s minutes Saturday night against the Knicks. The big man played 30:39 in total, 5:22 of that in the fourth quarter, although the game was never really in doubt. The Sixers' lead over the final 18 minutes of the game was fewer than 10 points for all of 21 seconds.

 

Embiid’s night against Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks could hardly be considered heavy lifting.

Yes, two games in two nights in two road cities isn’t easy. But nothing about being a star in the NBA should be easy. And the flight from NYC to Cleveland is about 100 minutes. 

The three-time All-Star said a few days ago that he would like to play every game this season. You would think a player who means so much to his team would get to make that decision on his own.

But when asked Saturday night if Embiid would play Sunday in Cleveland, Rivers said, “I guess the answer is you’ll have to wait and see.”

Ben Simmons spoke after the win about his team taking care of inferior opponents, saying “We’ve got to play at a high level every night. We can’t take breaks with anybody, especially with teams that we should beat.”

We can’t take breaks with anybody.

You have to wonder if Embiid, Rivers, Daryl Morey and company heard that.