Joel Embiid is back!
The All-Star center has impressed in his six games back after missing the previous nine following a bout with COVID-19. The Cameroonian big man is showing signs of a dominant level of play – one that made him an MVP finalist during the 2020-21 season.
On Monday night against the Hornets, a team that was fresh off a big win in Atlanta, Embiid took over down the stretch and willed the team to a 127-124 overtime victory. Erupting for a season-high 43 points, to go with 15 rebounds and seven assists, he scored or assisted on 15 of the team’s final 16 points and nearly outscored the Hornets by himself in that span (13-14).
Embiid continued his dominance over the Hornets on Wednesday, scoring 32 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and dishing out four assists, despite being slowed by foul trouble in the first half. He had 23 of his 32 points in the second half.
It’s the ninth time in his career he’s tallied at least 75 points and 20 rebounds in a two-game span. The only other 76er to do so at least nine times are Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Wilt Chamberlain.
MORE: Embiid leads 76ers to statement win vs. Hawks
“I thought for the last two games we sucked defensively, so we gotta correct that, but a win is a win, but we can always get much better,” Embiid said post-game.
Philadelphia had not won consecutive games since Nov. 6, and now increases its winning streak to three and is now three games above .500.
The 76ers suffered through a horrendous November as they had to endure the loss of Embiid, along with Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle, going just 3-9 in 12 games through the latter half of the month. A huge reason for that slump was the availability of the team’s two stars in Embiid and Harris.
Today’s contest was just their fifth game playing together since Oct. 30 as the 6-foot-8 wing also had his own battle with COVID-19 in November. With both of them back, the team is nearly back to full strength, barring of course, the prolonged absence of Aussie Ben Simmons.
“He’s dominant,” Harris said of Embiid after the win in Charlotte on Monday. “The way that he impacts the game offensively, he’s a shotmaker. He’s the guy that we go to when we need a bucket and he delivers for us.”
Philadelphia is now 4-2 since Embiid’s return with their two losses coming by a combined two points.
With nearly all of their team healthy, at least of those who were available on opening night and sparked an 8-2 start to the season, the 76ers can begin working on a turnaround, however, they have one of the toughest schedules in the league for December.
Going into December, the 76ers have the Eastern Conference’s second-toughest schedule of the month and third-toughest overall based on the opponent’s winning percentage, per NBA.com’s John Schuhmann.
Here’s a look at their upcoming schedule:
|Dec. 9||vs. Jazz||7:00 p.m|
|Dec. 11||vs. Warriors||7:00 p.m|
|Dec. 13||at Grizzlies||8:30 p.m|
|Dec. 15||vs. Heat||8:00 p.m|
|Dec. 16||at Nets||7:00 p.m|
|Dec. 19||vs. Pelicans||7:30 p.m|
The Sixers have moved up to sixth in the East with a 14-11 record, just a half game behind the slumping Washington Wizards who are in fifth.