Sixers’ Joel Embiid Fires Back at ‘Narrative’ Surrounding Him

Joel Embiid, John Collins

Getty Sixers star Joel Embiid is tired of his hearing about his lack of conditioning when things are going well.

When things aren’t going well for the Philadelphia 76ers, the first thing people usually point to is Joel Embiid’s conditioning. Fair or not. The Big Fella drinks too many Shirley Temples. He doesn’t spend enough time in the weight room. He doesn’t take the game of basketball seriously enough.

Blah, blah, blah. It’s easy for outsiders to sit there and judge athletes when things are going bad. However, when Embiid is dominating the way he has over his current five-game stretch, well it’s quieter than a church pew. After dropping 32 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against Milwaukee on Friday night, Embiid took a few minutes to address his conditioning and hopefully silence his critics. He has grown tired of the narrative out there.

“If I would have had a bad game the past few nights, probably they would have yelled at me like conditioning this or that but since we’re winning and I’m playing so well, then there are no questions of that,” Embiid told reporters. “So, you could say if I would have come back and played bad, probably the narrative would have been, ‘No, he’s not in shape’ and all that stuff.”

Embiid continued: “But because we are winning and I’m dominating, the narrative is the other way, so I can’t control it. What I can control is the work that I put in, and how invested I am in my team and my teammates. And I try to empower them to make sure that we win games. Like I always say, you can’t win alone. I need them all, 1 through 15, 1 through 14.”

While it’s fair to question whether conditioning has played a factor in Embiid’s lengthy injury history, it’s also unfair to paint a portrait of a man who lacks dedication. Many of his ailments have been freak accidents, like getting his face broken twice in four years thanks to inadvertent elbows that hit his eye socket. Guess what? Embiid put a mask on and played through the pain. His conditioning wasn’t the problem.

Tyrese Maxey Out vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Speaking of injuries, Tyrese Maxey has been ruled out for Saturday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Wells Fargo Center. The third-year guard rolled his ankle versus Milwaukee in what the Sixers are calling a left foot injury.

Head coach Doc Rivers confirmed that Maxey was wearing a walking boot in the locker room. He cautioned about him coming back right away when detailing their conversation: “He says what he always says, ‘Coach, I’m good.’ But I don’t know if he’ll be good right away, would be my guess.”

Maxey’s initial X-rays came back negative, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but he underwent an MRI on Saturday to determine the full extent of the injury. Those results haven’t been released. Look for an uptick in minutes for Shake Milton if Maxey is out for an extended period. The Sixers will most likely start De’Anthony Melton (dealing with a back issue) and Matisse Thybulle in the backcourt, with Milton being the first man up off the bench.

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Shake Milton: ‘Next Man Up Mentality’

Shake Milton was sensational on Friday and displayed great chemistry with Joel Embiid on pick-and-roll actions. He scored a season-high 15 points while dishing out 6 assists against Milwaukee. Philadelphia will need more quality minutes from him in the coming days.

“It hurt. I know that kid [Tyrese Maxey] is a warrior. If he could be out there with us, he definitely would be,” Milton said. “But, for us, my whole five years since I’ve been out here, it’s been a next man up mentality. That’s been part of our culture with the Sixers. We just try to stay ready and next man up, so I just had to turn on that switch and have that mentality of being aggressive and trying to make plays for the team.”

The Sixers don’t have time to feel sorry for themselves with the Minnesota Timberwolves (Saturday, November 19) staring them down next on the schedule, followed quickly by the Brooklyn Nets (Tuesday, November 22). Next man up indeed.

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