The latest chapter of the Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond rivalry will have to wait for another day, it seems. The Philadelphia 76ers center has been given the night off by coach Brett Brown for tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons (7 ET, ESPN).
“After the last few games with Memphis and Toronto, it became clear through the eye test and just listening that the time was now,” Brown said Friday morning. “So we’ve done that to help him and ultimately help our team have him for when it matters most.”
The big man had trouble in the Sixers’ last game as he looked a step slow vs. the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday and had trouble keeping Raptors backup center Jonas Valanciunas in front of him, writes Keith Pompey of Philly.com. Embiid has struggled offensively as well over his last three games, shooting a combined 14-for-42 (33.3 percent) in that span compared to the 46.2 percent shooting he’s averaged all season.
Embiid ranks fourth in the NBA in minutes played (892) this season, but ranks tied for tied for 25th in the league in minutes per game (34.3) because Philadelphia has played more games than most teams in the league.
Brown said keeping Embiid healthy and energized for the rest of the season is the driving force behind this rest tonight.
“If he could, he’d play 48 minutes,” Brown said. “And I feel that if there’s any responsibility that we have as an organization is to preserve our player’s health. It was clear to us and Joel that he was fatigued over the past few games, especially.
“How do you deliver them in a healthy, spirited fashion when it matters the most? So the decision to sit Joel tonight is mine. It’s always delivered with the purpose to try to help him.”