Sixers Veteran Leaks Scouting Report on Joel Embiid for ‘No Reason’

Joel Embiid, De'Anthony Melton, Georges Niang

Getty Teams are doubling and trapping Joel Embiid but the Philadelphia 76ers star keeps making them pay.

Doc Rivers subbed for Joel Embiid earlier than usual during Wednesday night’s 113-93 win, taking his superstar center out with 4:50 to go in the first quarter and replacing him with Montrezl Harrell. Don’t read too much into it. The Philadelphia 76ers are experimenting with different lineups depending on how tired the guys feel.

Rivers revealed that Embiid was feeling a little sluggish going back to the team’s morning shootaround. He decided to keep James Harden in the contest with the Sixers up 22-14 at the time. He wants one of those two players on the floor at all times.

“That was just Jo said he wanted to come out early. He was a little tired this morning and we just talked about it,” Rivers said. “We either take him or James out, one of the two — and in the first half we went with Joel.”

Embiid still saw ample minutes in a 20-point blowout victory over the Detroit Pistons. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists in 34 minutes. More impressively, the 7-footer sent a rude awakening to Pistons rookie Jalen Duren, holding the high-flying top pick to 7 points. Duren, of course, is a Delaware native who attended Roman Catholic High School. He relished the opportunity to battle Embiid.

“I feel like this is only the beginning,” Duren said, via The Inquirer. “This is nothing that’s surprised me. I’ve always felt like, ‘I’m good. I can play on this level,’ even at a young age. Where I’m at now doesn’t really surprise me. I just want to keep getting better.”

Georges Niang Divulages Scouting Report

Sixers forward Georges Niang was delivering an insightful answer on Embiid’s playmaking ability when he caught himself giving away the scouting report. He continued on because it doesn’t seem like anyone can stop the MVP candidate these days, inside information or not.

“A lot of teams are sending doubles, I hate to give away the scouting report, for no reason. Before he even dribbles. He’s been doing a great job of holding the ball and baiting them,” Niang said after the game. “And then if they don’t come, then he goes into his move. If they do come right away, just finding someone else, and the ball is hopping and we’ve done a great job of making shots and making plays off his playmaking.”

Rivers has been enjoying Embiid’s development as an elite passer, particularly from the elbow. The Big Fella has been able to diagnose double teams on the fly and make the defense pay with crisp, clean feeds to his wing players. It’s just another explosive weapon in Embiid’s already nuclear arsenal.

“We expected them to come at him early, I thought he held that perfect, just getting rid of it, getting shots, and then when they didn’t come then he got to work,” Rivers said. “He also knows when they are trapping he can catch it at the elbow and attack from there. So, yeah, he’s passing the ball well. His timing is really good. Our spacing is really good. Our cuts are really good.”

Ball Movement Key to 6-Game Home Winning Streak

The Sixers (18-12) are clicking on all cylinders heading into Christmas, winners of six straight games and carrying all the momentum in the world. They currently hold the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference as Rivers’ squad looks to close out their 7-game homestand with a win on Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

That would make them unbeaten since December 5. So, what’s been the key to a perfect record at home?

“I just think that in this homestand, the ball has been moving,” forward Tobias Harris said. “We’re really finding each other out there on the floor. Our pace is picking up. If I had to pinpoint two things, I think it would be our pace from time to time and our ball movement. That’s been helping us a lot.”

The Sixers will hit the road for a 4-game swing starting on Christmas Day when they play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. From there, the team will travel to Washington (December 27), New Orleans (December 30), and Oklahoma City (December 31) before returning to Wells Fargo Center on January 2.

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