Sixers’ Joel Embiid has a chip on his shoulder ahead of NBA playoffs

With the hours ticking until the Sixers leave for Orlando, Joel Embiid spoke with the media via Zoom about his expectations of the restart. While he shared his doubts about the logistics of the concept of the bubble, one thing has also been made clear- Joel Embiid is ready to go. Questions have surrounded the fit of this Sixers team as the pieces have struggled to fit together throughout the whole season. With a clean slate ahead in the remainder of the season, Embiid is ready to take his game to the next level leading the Sixers in the process.

“I know I’m capable of carrying the team so it’s all about me being assertive… At the end of the day, I should never be in a position to complain about getting the ball, just because of who I am. I believe I can carry the team, and I believe (in) being able to do that, I just got to take matters into my own hands.”

ESPN-Tim Bontemps

This is the type of mindset that can be a difference-maker for the Sixers. Josh Richardson said that Embiid looks slimmer now than he did when they were playing, and Brett Brown has talked about how hard JoJo worked throughout this break. Along with Simmons recovering from his back injury, this is a major factor that greatly increases the Sixers odds in this return. Due to both Embiid and Simmons being on the injury report when the shutdown occurred, they were able to workout at Sixers facilities straight through the break. This is a great contrast to players like Jayson Tatum, who said he was unable to shoot a basketball for over a month.

Largely due to the clunky and awkward fit next to Al Horford this year, Embiid has seen his scoring and rebounding numbers decrease this year. While the problem is still there to some extent, from Brett Brown’s comments it is clear that Embiid and Horford will not spend much time on the court together. Brown referred to there being sort of a “Team Al and Team Jo” as was expected based on Big Al’s benching before the season was put on hold. Horford will still be expected to provide valuable backup minutes as well as the veteran leadership and experience that we expected when he was signed.

Embiid also spoke positively of Ben Simmons and his role on the team saying

“We’re going to need him… I’m going to do my best to keep helping him and create some space for him. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning a championship and I feel he has the right mindset. I know one thing about him, he wants to win.”

There are few duos as talented as Simmons and Embiid around the league and having them on the same page is absolutely crucial for the Sixers to be able to make a legitimate title run.

Confidence has never been something that Embiid has lacked, but it is clear he feels himself and the team will be ready to go when play returns. When Joel is at his best he is the best center in the league and a legitimate NBA star. The fitness-level and quality of play will be questionable throughout the league when play returns, but knowing Embiid will be at a high level is extremely reassuring. It is clear that Joel wants the keys to the offense and he has earned them. Embiid and the Sixers have a chance to make a huge statement and show they can be the team everyone expected when the season began. With just 3 weeks until play resumes, the team must be ready for this second life and as always: Trust the Process.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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