Posts Tagged ‘#76ers’

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In Game 1 of their series, the Philadelphia 76ers — without Joel Embiid — blew the doors off the Miami Heat, winning by 27. It’s the kind of game that can lead a young team to overconfidence.

That’s when Draymond Green texted Joel Embiid some words of advice, reports Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“Draymond texted me after the first game when we blew Miami out,” Embiid recalled Monday. “He basically told me that it’s not going to be the same in Game 2. They came back and they won that game.”

Green was right, but it’s one of the harder things for young players to understand, how much the ground can shift game-to-game in the playoffs. For the first four games especially, matchups and strategies will change night-to-night, and around Game 5 that tends to settle down and become more about execution (and talent).

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For the Sixers, everything in their series changed with the return of Joel Embiid. Unhappily wearing a mask, Embiid’s defensive presence in the paint slows the Heat attack and allows things like Philly’s Game 4 comeback win on the road. Now Embiid’s about to make his home playoff debut in Game 5 Tuesday night, with a chance to close out the series.

“The atmosphere was amazing, it was insane,” Embiid said of the home crowd in Games 1 and 2. “After going to Miami, I felt like nothing compared to it. … We’ve been almost perfect [at home] since the beginning of the year. It just shows you how much we need them. Especially myself, I play better in that type of environment. I need the fans to get into it and push me. That makes me elevate my game.”

Beyond the first round, in an East where the expected best teams — Toronto and Cleveland — have looked vulnerable, the door is open.

“A lot of people say that we have a bright future, but I think our time is now,” Embiid said. “We have a pretty good chance. We have a special team, a lot of great guys. I don’t think we need anybody else. We’ve just got to work with what we have, and we have a special team. I feel like we have a pretty good chance to go far.

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MIAMI — All-Star center Joel Embiid is doubtful for Game 3 of the 76ers first-round series against the Heat on Thursday.

The series is tied 1-1, and Embiid has missed both games.

Embiid has been sidelined since March 28 due to a broken orbital bone and a concussion. He cleared the NBA’s concussion protocol earlier this week and practiced with the Sixers on Tuesday and Wednesday, although he was a limited participant on Wednesday.

There remains no definitive timetable for Embiid’s return.

Prior to the Game 2 loss, Philadelphia had been 9-0 during Embiid’s recent absence. Sixers coach Brett Brown has said several times that the club missed Embiid badly in Game 2.

But Brown has stressed that Embiid — who averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 63 games in the regular season — will not be rushed back if Philadelphia falls behind in the best-of-seven series against Miami.

“It’s about what’s best for Joel’s health,” Brown said earlier this week.

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Embiid took “a little bit of contact” during practice on Tuesday, Brown said, although it seems as if he is unable to engage in full contact with defenders.

Brown acknowledged that Embiid’s conditioning will be less than 100 percent if and when he returns.

“Whenever the time comes when he does play, I think [his conditioning will improve] in a more rapid way. His body looks great,” the coach said. “If you just look at him physically, I think he looks fantastic. I feel like it will kick in quicker than most.”

Brown also said there would be at least a slight adjustment required to implement Embiid into the offense after a nearly three-week absence.

“I think defensively, he immediately comes in and changes the landscape,” Brown said. “The game is being played so fast right now [and] he has not been with us for a while, so I think the adjustment offensively might be a little bit more noticeable than defensively initially.”