Joel Embiid has had a tough go of things in 2021. He played through a knee injury in the postseason, saw his Sixers come up short against the Hawks in the east semis, and most recently, caught Covid-19. It was bad enough that he was quoted as saying he thought he wasn’t going to make it.
Embiid is nothing less than a fighter, though, and after another masterful performance today, deserves to get a little love.
Embiid wasn’t just dominant. His stat line of 43 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists (while shooting 15 of 20 from the field and 12 of 14 from the charity stripe), is already great to look at, but he also shouldered the load late in the game and was the reason that the Sixers even made it to overtime. From the end of the fourth quarter, until OT finished, Embiid scored 9 of Philadelphia’s last 11 points, and he assisted on the game’s final basket.
He split a pair of free throws with 49.1 seconds left in the fourth, then made a pull-up jumper with 30 seconds left to tie it. He even had a chance to win the game in regulation, but couldn’t hit his shot with 0.5 seconds left.
However, instead of letting himself get down, Embiid led by example. He made two jumpers and a tip-in, and then assisted Tobias Harris’ dunk with 1:10 left to play, which ended up being the final basket that left the score at 127-124.
Remember, this is a guy who was very ill a couple of weeks ago. It speaks volumes of Embiid’s character that he is able to continue playing at an elite level, and drown out all of the noise happening around him. He doesn’t even feel like he’s at 100% yet, but he’s clearly giving his all.
The Cameroonian center only cares about one thing: winning. That was evident by the joy he shared when the Sixers narrowly defeated the Hawks a few days ago. As a basketball fan, you can’t help but appreciate how he cares about the game.
It’s been a tumultuous season for the Sixers so far, and it really does look like Ben Simmons is never going to suit up again. Thankfully, Philly sports fans at least have one Sixer who is willing to leave it all on the court.