Joel Embiid and the Sixers need a better “load management” plan

NBA: FEB 24 Magic at 76ers
PHILADELPHIA, PA – FEBRUARY 24: Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid (21) laughs with Orlando Magic Center Bismack Biyombo (11) in the second half during the game between the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers on February 24, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers need to get on the same page

Heading into their third game of the season, many felt the Sixers were in line for yet another convincing victory. They were coming off a pretty strong outing against the Knicks, and the Cavaliers were missing a handful of key role players. Throw in the fact that Joel Embiid has historically dominated Andre Drummond down low – and it really was looking like Philly would be kicking off the 2020-21 season with a 3-0 record.

However, Embiid ended up not actually playing in the Sunday night affair. He was a late scratch due to “back tightness”, and his absence on the court was pretty darn noticeable. Drummond finished the game with 24 points and 14 rebounds, having his way with the likes of Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley around the rim.

The Sixers aren’t strangers to Embiid missing regular-season games, especially during back-to-backs. However, the problem rests in the fact that it looks like there was very little communication between Embiid and Doc Rivers in regards to his availability on Sunday. Embiid was listed as “active” all the way up to pregame warm-ups, only getting ruled out moments before the game began.

After the loss, Rivers even highlighted the fact that he was unaware that Embiid would be unavailable. That type of last-minute curveball likely threw off Rivers’ entire game-plan and put the rest of the Sixers roster in a state of confusion and uncertainty heading into what should’ve been a comfortable win.

Ultimately speaking, Embiid is going to have his fair share of “rest days” this year, and the rest of the Sixers roster should be good enough to beat a team like the Cavs without their All-Star center. However, the problem lies in the overall confusion and poor commutation that ended up taking place. If Embiid needs a day off, that needs to be directly conveyed to his teammates and the coaching staff.

In today’s modern era, “load management” has become increasingly common. That’s fine, it has its benefits, especially for someone of Embiid’s size. However, if the Sixers want to avoid another disappointing loss to a team like the Cavs, they need to facilitate a better plan moving forward.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire