Joel Embiid dominating opponents

Joel Embiid dominating opponents

Joel Embiid continues to lead the Philadelphia 76ers, despite the drama surrounding Ben Simmons being unresolved. They won their seventh consecutive game on Monday evening with an accomplished performance against the Houston Rockets that saw Embiid put up an impressive 30 points.

“Joel really set the tone for the whole team,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said following the victory, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “On a night like tonight, you have a lot of guys out; you’re playing a team that’s struggling right now; you can’t come in here and mess around. I thought Jo was very serious to start the game.”

Not only was it Philadelphia’s seventh straight win, it was also Embiid’s seventh successive game with 30 or more points. While he didn’t get his second triple-double against the Rockets this season, he certainly wasn’t complaining following the contest.

“I really wanted this to be a three-quarter game,” Embiid said. “And by doing that you got to set the tone early and get off to a good start [and] build the lead…Every single night, that’s what I have to do. Whether we have a bunch of guys out or playing, I’ve got to set the tone and be aggressive.”

With Embiid getting some rest, it provided an opportunity for Andre Drummond to get some more playing time. He had no issues stepping in and getting the job done when required. He finished with a total of 13 points and had his sixth double-double of the season.

“It’s so good to see,” Rivers said. “You look at this guy last year, he couldn’t get on the floor. Now you watch him play, he’s happy, he’s playing hard. He’s been really good, and great in the locker room, too. Just a great addition for us.”

Philadelphia finished the regular season last year top of the Eastern Conference standings, before crashing out in the second round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks. They will have a hard time finishing in first place this season considering the issues they had with COVID-19, but will still be fighting to gain home-court advantage through the first couple of rounds at least. They have really found a way to build momentum in recent weeks.

“We were the first ‘COVID team,’” said Rivers. “The second bout of this, maybe we’re more adjusted to it. It’s also nice that our best player is playing dominating basketball right now.”

With Simmons still refusing to play for the team, the 76ers cannot afford to just rely on Embiid and know their depth will play a big factor in how far the team will go in the spring.  Matisse Thybulle, who was selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, has really stepped up to the plate this season and has looked great alongside veteran Danny Green.

“We were talking at halftime just at halftime just about how many deflections we had gotten in the first quarter, and I think that had quite a bit to do with it,” Thybulle said of his pairing with Green, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Just two guys very defensively-minded trying to shut down our assignment.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the 76ers perform as the season progresses, but fans have to be excited for what is to come.