Joel Embiid has been the focal point of the Philadelphia 76ers’ offense so far this season, and the team will need him to continue to be.
On Tuesday night, Embiid became the first Sixers player since Wilt Chamberlain to score at least 20 points and grab 10 rebounds during the first four games of the season, per Elias Sports Bureau.
Chamberlain accomplished the feat twice, with the most recent being in the 1966-67 season. Dolph Schayes also achieved the feat twice during his 15-year career with the Sixers, although the team was the Syracuse Nationals for most of Schayes’ career.
The Sixers lost 133-132 in overtime against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, but Embiid shined, totaling 33 points and 11 rebounds. He was dominant in a variety of ways in this game while wreaking havoc around the hoop.
The superb performance led to yet another feat for the 24-year-old, as he became the first Sixers player since Charles Barkley (1990-91) to post a 30 and 10 stat line in three straight games, per ESPN Stats and Info.
The Sixers will play the Milwaukee Bucks on the road Wednesday at 9:30 p.m., and Embiid will have to produce at a high level again.
For a Sixers offense that hasn’t shot the ball well (34.8 percent from the 3-point line), Embiid has been consistently dominant over the past three games. To start the season, he’s led the team in both scoring and rebounding, posting averages of 29.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
During the Sixers’ loss to the Pistons, Embiid even picked up the role of facilitator, dishing out seven assists. T.J. McConnell led the team in this category Tuesday with eight, but with Ben Simmons out for the game, Embiid carried more responsibility.
Sixers drawing solid opponents early in season
Philly’s star had his quality outing overshadowed by Blake Griffin’s career night which featured 50 points and 14 rebounds, along with six assists for good measure.
Griffin was traded to the Pistons last season in late January. The point-forward role he has with the team suits him perfectly, and just judging from last night’s performance, Griffin seems primed to retake his spot as one of the NBA’s best players.
In short, the Sixers have gone up against some offensive firepower to begin this season – and their defense hasn’t provided much resistance. Philadelphia has allowed 115.3 points per game this season, ranking No. 16 in the league for the category.
While the Pistons have Griffin, the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo. Like Embiid, Antetokounmpo has been dominant to start this season. He’s averaging 27.3 points per game, but the key here is that teammate Khris Middleton is averaging 24.0 points per game.
The Bucks currently have one of the highest scoring offenses in the league, as their 118.3 points per game ties them for eighth with the Dallas Mavericks entering the night.
There is some good news for the Sixers, as Simmons plans to play in this game, as Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes revealed. This marks his return to action after dealing with back tightness which led to him leaving last weekend’s game against the Orlando Magic after just eight minutes.
Even when Simmons has played, the Sixers offense hasn’t been as dominant as it’s capable of. Part of that, though, is due to the team’s lack of consistent shooting. The defense will have to improve regardless, and if that happens it will help to relieve the pressure on the offensive end.
Embiid will need to continue to play at a high level for the Sixers to have any offensive success as this stands currently. Simmons can score, but his role is to facilitate. JJ Redick has played well so far off the bench, but the Sixers also haven’t received much in the scoring department from Dario Saric, who is shooting 33.3 percent from the field.
For the Sixers, having Embiid play well so far is a positive – but they need him to keep it rolling with a few key stretches ahead.