On Monday against Indiana, Joel Embiid nearly did not play because of a bothersome ankle injury. But he was, perhaps, inspired by some comments made by his fellow center on the opposite side, Myles Turner of the Pacers.
Turner, who leads the league in blocked shots with 3.4 per game, told the Indy Star before the last Pacers-Sixers game (which Embiid wound up missing), “If I am who I think I am, I’m going to step up to the challenge.”
On Monday he got his chance, but it did not go well for Turner. Embiid played only 27 minutes but still abused Turner for 24 points and 13 rebounds. Turner also played 27 minutes, finishing with just 11 points and three rebounds. Turner was a minus-17 in the game.
After the game, Embiid avoided flat-out trash-talking Turner, but did remind him of the dynamic between the two players over the years.
“He’s a great player and I have a lot of respect for him,” Embiid said. “I say this respectfully, that’s a matchup I’ve dominated since I got to the league. He’s a great defender, leads the league in blocks, and he should be up there when it comes to Defensive Player of the Year.”
Embiid Post Big Career Numbers vs. Myles Turner
Embiid is not joking about his dominance of Turner over the years. They have faced each other seven times in the past three seasons, and the numbers are massively in favor of Embiid.
In those seven games, he has averaged 27.4 points on 54.9% shooting, adding 14.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Turner, on the other hand has put up just t7.4 point and 4.9 rebounds, shooting 36.9% from the field.
What made the night tougher for Turner was that the Pacers frequently sent help to double-team Embiid, but he has become so good at reading doubles that he easily racked up five assists, including this one to Furkan Korkmaz.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 2, 2021
Embiid is averaging 3.3 assists, which ranks ninth among NBA centers.
Double-Team Passing an Emphasis for Embiid This Season
Passing out of double-teams, in fact, has been one thing that new coach Doc Rivers stressed when he first linked up with Embiid this season. In the past, Embiid has mostly been frustrated by double-teams, but with new shooters added to the Sixers roster this season, Rivers wants Embiid to be patient and invite doubles.
Embiid has done so, doing a better job of knowing when to create his own offense and when to dish to teammates.
Doc hit @Matt_Barnes22 with the “Listen……” about Embiid 🤣
Coach talked about Jo as the “Go-To” guy & having an “if you double me, we’re gonna score. If you don’t double me, we’re still gonna score” mindset.
Says 21 is welcoming doubles & having defined roles is helping. pic.twitter.com/pEMPpevAuJ
— Brock Landes (@LandesBrock) February 5, 2021
In January, Rivers appeared on the All the Smoke podcast and told hosts Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes:
I thought he was good. I’m not gonna lie, like I thought he was really, really good, but I don’t know how you stop him when he gets it in this place without double-teaming him. That’s what teams are doing and so what we had to do was get him comfortable with being double-teamed and get him to understand and having the mindset, if you double team me, we’re gonna score. If you don’t double team me, we’re gonna score, right, and he has that mindset now. You can see it. This the first time he invites double team.