Even with key players out of the lineup, the Philadelphia 76ers have a good chance to win every night.
As long as All-Star Joel Embiid is on the court.
Despite right elbow soreness, Embiid scored 25 of his 32 points in the second half to help the Sixers rally past the host Miami Heat 109-98 on Saturday.
The Sixers will look for another road victory when they visit the Washington Wizards on Monday.
“That’s what great players do. Nothing we did,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We got him the ball in the same areas, he got comfortable. He knew the spots where he wanted to take shots from so that’s who Joel is.”
Without Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green, the Sixers still found a way to win in Miami. Before stumbling against the Charlotte Hornets, the Sixers had won seven in a row.
All of these victories can be correlated to Embiid’s Most Valuable Player level of play.
Embiid’s uncharacteristic first half was quickly set aside after the scintillating second half.
“There was no way I could have played worse than I did in that first half,” Embiid said, acknowledging that his elbow was sore. “I said it earlier, I was probably the worst player in the NBA in that first half so there was no way I could’ve played worse than I did. All I needed to do was just be aggressive.”
Embiid has scored 30 or more points in 10 consecutive road games. The Sixers lead the league with 16 road wins.
The Wizards will look to rebound after a 115-110 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
To be fair, the Wizards played without leading scorer Bradley Beal (health and safety protocol) and Davis Bertans (foot). Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. also was placed in the COVID-19 protocol.
The absences were noticeable as the Wizards struggled, especially on the defensive end.
Every team is dealing with roster issues.
“It’s going to tell a lot about who we are, what we’re made of. We had a nice stretch of winning, but we played some bad teams,” said Kyle Kuzma, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds. “I think the biggest thing for us is figure out what we’re going to do. Are we going to play together offensively, defensively? Are we going to take pride in one-on-one defense? Are we going to take pride in taking care of the ball?
“Those things, there are a lot of questions. But at the same time, it’s going to be a great test,” Kuzma added.
The Wizards will have a new acting head coach Monday after Pat Delany, the team’s lead assistant, was placed into protocol Monday. Joseph Blair becomes the team’s third acting head coach with Unseld still in protocol.
Regardless, the Wizards can’t allow 46 points in the paint again like they did against Portland.
“I just told the guys: ‘What was the big adjustment (in the third quarter)? There wasn’t one,'” Delany said. “We just put more into it, we competed harder. More energy, more talk, more effort.”
–Field Level Media