But in their home-and-home against the Detroit Pistons, the role players helped the shorthanded 76ers to victory.
Embiid sits and Muscala answers
After the loss to the Raptors last week, it was apparent Embiid was tired. He didn’t look like himself on either side of the ball and was a non-factor in the game.
Head coach Brett Brown must have thought similarly and sat Embiid in Detroit just two nights later.
But it had to be done and others needed to step up. Mike Muscala answered the call.
He finished with 18 points and had three blocks on the game. He’s not normally known for his rim protection, but he provided it late in the game.
Muscala kept Drummond out of the paint because of his ability to shoot the three and the 76ers overcame a 15-point second half deficit to get the 117-111 win.
“I thought defensively, at the end of the game, those last four or five minutes, I thought he was excellent,” Brown said.
Jimmy Butler also helped with his 38-point night and Ben Simmons with his 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Brown felt strongly about his team’s performance. “This was our best win of the year under these circumstances,” Brown said.
The Korkmaz game
In the second game of the home-and-home, the 76ers were once again shorthanded.
Butler left the game in the first quarter with a strained groin and didn’t return the rest of the game.
This game was more manageable because of the home court advantage and the absence of Pistons forward Blake Griffin, who sat out the game due to rest.
But still without Butler, it was time for another role player to step up. Furkan Korkmaz was ready to take advantage of the minutes.
Korkmaz scored a career-high 18 points in 26 minutes. He shot 4-of-7 from three and was active away from the ball finding open spaces for easy layups. The 76ers pulled away in the fourth quarter, 116-102.
He hasn’t been a much of a factor since he was drafted in the first round in 2016, but now is his time to prove he’s a capable NBA player.
Embiid meanwhile looked sluggish to start the game perhaps due to feeling sick recently. He eventually settled in and finished with 24 points.
Embiid’s “role” comments
Despite previous media reports, Embiid isn’t frustrated with his role recently because of the addition of Butler but because of how head coach Brett Brown is using him.
He sounded off before Friday night’s game in Detroit.
“I think it’s mainly because of the way I’ve been used, which is I’m being used as a spacer, I guess, a stretch five, which I’m only shooting 29 percent [from three],” Embiid said, via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Embiid addressed his comments after the game Monday night.
“I love everybody, love my teammates, love the coaching staff. I think everyone that knows me knows that,” Embiid said. “Me being frustrated is because of I hold myself to a really high standard.”
Embiid may not want to admit it, but he’s tired. He plays such a big role on this team every night averaging about 36 minutes per game.
It’s understandable Embiid wants to be used more in the paint dominating his opponents. But being in the paint posting up would perhaps be more tiresome for him.
Embiid just needs to accept that rest is his best friend.
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