For the Philadelphia 76ers to be successful, Joel Embiid must play at an ultra-high level every night.
Anything less and the Sixers can be defeated — especially with a shorthanded roster due mostly to health and safety protocols.
Philadelphia dropped a 98-96 decision to the depleted Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. The 76ers will look to rebound on Sunday against the host Washington Wizards.
Embiid recorded 23 points and 10 rebounds before missing a potential game-tying jumper at the buzzer against the Hawks. Clearly, the Sixers need more.
“Well, he’s not going to have great nights every night. And we have proven to score the ball,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We have an entire package, it involves Joel and the rest of the team. He didn’t play great, but no one else did either. The shots were there, the energy wasn’t, the pace wasn’t, the speed wasn’t, the passing wasn’t.”
“We didn’t play the two-man game at all. Again, we didn’t deserve to win the game,” Rivers added.
The Sixers currently have four players in health and safety protocols — Danny Green, Georges Niang, Andre Drummond and Shake Milton. It’s unclear if any of them will be cleared to face the Wizards.
“We’ve got to approach every single game the same way,” Tyrese Maxey said. “Because it’s gonna be a lot more games like this because of COVID-19. So, no matter if we have guys out or if other teams have guys out, or if both teams have guys out right now. These games count on your record. We’ve got to go out there and fight and try and come up with wins.”
The Wizards will be looking for their third consecutive victory on Sunday.
In their most recent game on Thursday, the Wizards posted a 124-117 win over the New York Knicks.
Washington played without Bradley Beal and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, both in the health and safety protocols. But Corey Kispert responded with a career-high 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor — including 4-of-5 from 3-point range — in his first career start.
The Wizards continued to play unselfish basketball with 30 assists, even missing two key players.
“I thought it was a great team win,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Offensively, we had a good flow, a good rhythm. We had 30 assists, so the ball was moving. We were able to put together three 30-plus-point quarters, which is a great sign. Our cutting, our movement, our spacing was correct and we had the willingness to try to make the right play time and time again.”
Spencer Dinwiddie also had 21 points and 12 assists in arguably his best all-around performance with the Wizards.
“You got to understand, we all have a job to do, and I try to do what’s asked of me on a consistent basis,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s just hard. I want to play the best I can possibly play every night. I want to make every shot. I want to make every defensive play. I want to average 50 points and 20 assists and 30 rebounds. But it’s just not the way it is.”
–Field Level Media