Joel Embiid has struggled with lower back soreness recently, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing in important games for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Embiid was a game-time decision Saturday for the Sixers’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he played. He played well too, leading the Sixers with 31 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
He told reporters after the game that he played despite his back soreness because of the Sixers’ 11-year losing streak against the Thunder. The Sixers haven’t defeated the Thunder since 2008, the first year the Thunder played in Oklahoma City after relocating from Seattle.
Embiid is competitive, acknowledging at the end of the clip that he was mad about how the Sixers lost the game. With about 10 seconds left, Thunder guard Dennis Schroder turned the ball over, and Jimmy Butler scored a layup to put Philly up 115-113.
On the next possession, Paul George made a 3-pointer and was fouled by Butler on the play. George made the free throw to earn the the four-point play, and the Sixers lost 117-115.
Embiid expressing his desire to play despite his back shows how much he wants the Sixers to succeed during this difficult part of their schedule. The Sixers’ next five games are against the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors.
Along with showing his determination Saturday, Embiid showed that same drive after the Sixers beat the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, too.
“I felt like tonight we needed it, especially for homecourt advantage in the playoffs,” Embiid told TNT’s Rosalyn Gold-Onwude after the win against the Pacers.
Though Embiid has struggled with an aching back, he has shown leadership in that he wants to help his team play well during a part of their schedule that could define how they’ll perform the rest of the season.