Joel Embiid proved he can have a major impact on a game even if he’s not 100 percent healthy.
Or making shots.
Despite missing the morning shootaround with a non-COVID illness and left foot soreness, Embiid showed why he’s a legitimate Most Valuable Player candidate again in a stirring 110-105 come-from-behind victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
The Sixers will now look to Embiid to lead them to a sixth straight win when they host the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.
Embiid shot 7-of-25 from the field but finished with 27 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and six blocked shots on Thursday.
“It should change the tone about him,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said of Embiid’s performance on both ends of the court. “Not in the huddle, but outwardly. Joel is a two-way player. If you take away what someone does best, what else can they do to help the team? We ask our guys that every night. Tonight, it was Joel. If you took away his offense, what else did he do? Well, he had six blocks, he had 19 rebounds, he had six assists. That tells you how great the guy is.”
James Harden was also fantastic with 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as the Sixers overcame a 17-point deficit against one of the top teams in the league.
Tobias Harris also dropped in a 3-pointer which gave the Sixers a 106-105 lead with 39.1 seconds left.
The Sixers will need clutch shots from their standouts as the schedule continues to be challenging.
“Our schedule is tough. A lot of games in a short amount of time,” Harris said. “We need this to prepare us and get us ready mentally and physically. This is a good stretch for us to really embrace it and really come out of this a better group than we started.”
The Celtics will look for their third consecutive victory when they battle the Sixers.
Boston outlasted the host Indiana Pacers, 142-138, in overtime Thursday.
The Celtics’ two All-Stars led the way as Jayson Tatum had 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists while Jaylen Brown added 30 points and 11 rebounds.
Brown played with a new mask to protect a facial fracture sustained on Feb. 8 when he accidentally collided with Tatum during Boston’s 106-99 win over the visiting 76ers.
“It’s just some things that I have to adjust and adapt to, but I will,” Brown said. “Today was the first real game with it on, I think it went fine. But it will definitely take some getting used to and some adjustments and being able to adapt to it.”
It was a bit of a stressful victory for the Celtics in their first game since the All-Star break. Both Tatum and Brown had to play extended minutes.
“Nothing like a 41-minute overtime night straight from the break,” said Tatum, who scored 55 points in the All-Star Game to earn Most Valuable Player honors. “I’ll take it though. Good win.”
Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 points off the bench for Boston against his former team as the Celtics improved to a league-best 43-17.
“It had a playoff-like atmosphere. We had to withstand some runs, we had to adjust, we had to execute and make plays,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “I liked the fact we had to go through that. You have to win games like that and you have to be in games like that.”
–Field Level Media