For the first time in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers have opted to give Joel Embiid a day off. After his red-hot start, it seems fatigue may have slowed him down just a bit. With the team set to face the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, fans will have to wait a few days to see Embiid’s rematch with Andre Drummond.
Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported the news, as Sixers coach Brett Brown explained the decision.
The decision isn’t all that surprising, although the Sixers playing in a nationally televised game here likely made this a tough call for Embiid to take in stride. The 24-year-old center loves big games such as this one, but the fatigue was apparent and it was a good spot to rest him.
Embiid is coming off arguably his worst showing of the season, tying a season-low with 10 points and shooting 29.4 percent from the field in a loss to the Toronto Raptors. It was a rare poor game for him, though, as the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has averaged 26.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over 26 games.
The Sixers have two days off after Friday’s game, but then Embiid will get another chance to square off with Drummond. The two teams are set to meet again on Monday, with the game being played in Philadelphia.
Sixers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Pistons
*Notates expected starter
C: Amir Johnson*, Mike Muscala
PF: Wilson Chandler*, Jonah Bolden
SF: Jimmy Butler*, Furkan Korkmaz
SG: JJ Redick*, Landry Shamet
PG: Ben Simmons*, T.J. McConnell
*Update: Head coach Brett Brown revealed Amir Johnson as the starter for Friday’s game.
Although Muscala has played far more than Johnson this season, the matchup with Drummond isn’t exactly appealing for either. You could argue the veteran in Johnson is a better defender, but Muscala has two inches on his teammate which may come into play against one of the NBA’s best rebounders.
Muscala has also seen far more playing time this season, averaging a career-high 23.7 minutes per game leading to 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds. As for Johnson, he’s actually playing the fewest minutes of his career (10.3) and averaging 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.
The biggest boost from a production standpoint will surely go to both Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, who’ll handle the heavy lifting in this game. Butler is coming off his best game as a member of the 76ers, scoring 38 points with 10 rebounds on 15-27 shooting.
Sixers Remain Thin Across Roster
Regardless of who starts at center in place of Embiid, the Sixers are obviously still very thin due to injuries. Second-year guard Markelle Fultz was recently diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which reportedly played a role in his shooting struggles dating back to last year.
Fultz is out for the foreseeable future, while rookie guard Zhaire Smith remains sidelined with a fractured foot followed by a setback due to a bad food allergy. Joining both players on the injured list is Justin Patton, who was acquired in the Sixers’ trade for Jimmy Butler and is rehabbing from a broken foot.