Embiid still battles for Covid aftermath

BOSTON – Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said it will “take a while” for him to fully recover after a prolonged fight with COVID-19.

Embiid had a second straight shooting performance in Wednesday’s 88-87 loss to the Boston Celtics.

“I would never use it as an excuse, but obviously I think it will take a while for me to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that,” Embiid said after going 3-for-17 against Boston, making it a 7-for-33 combined in the Philadelphia’s last two games. “But every day I have to keep working hard and keep improving.”

After Embiid scored 43 points in Philadelphia’s double overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday on his return, looking like he didn’t miss a day even though he was nearly three weeks away due to the virus, it crashed back to Earth each of the past two games.

He followed a 4-for-16 failure at home against the Orlando Magic on Monday with his 3-for-17 performance against the Celtics on Wednesday, as the entire Philadelphia team played like they were stuck in the mud at that end of the court.

Philadelphia (11-11) shot just 37.1 percent overall and 8-of-31 from 3-point range, including a corner triple from forward Georges Niang with 0.1 seconds left that was blocked by the Celtics center. Robert Williams III, to ensure victory.

Embiid, however, bore the blame for the loss.

“I can’t be playing the way I played these last two games, especially when it comes to shooting,” Embiid said after finishing with 13 points, 18 rebounds, six assists, two steals and three blocks in 33 minutes. “If the teams are going to double me up and I’m not going to make easy baskets, I have to create for myself and my teammates, and I have to make those shots.”

Neither team was able to do anything all night, with Boston (12-10) finally getting enough offense to secure victory in the first game of a brutally difficult December that features 15 games, all of which will be against teams. that are currently at or above .500.

It is there, with a .500 record, that Philadelphia is just over a quarter of the way through the season, a sharp drop from the 8-2 start that the 76ers enjoyed before losing Embiid during nine games against COVID-19.

He was also shaking his right (shooting) hand throughout the game after Enes Freedom hit him in the first quarter, shortly after Freedom received a standing ovation from the local fans here in his first game after both. officially become U.S. citizens. and changing his last name from Kanter to Freedom.

However, he allowed Embiid to say with a big smile, “That’s what happens when Freedom gets too much freedom,” when asked about his hand after the game, then added that “hopefully” it improves, and that he felt more when he was taking free throws.

When 76ers coach Doc Rivers was asked what he had seen of Embiid since he returned from the virus and if it had any lingering effects on him, Rivers admitted he wasn’t sure what to think.

“Everyone with COVID, I just don’t know those answers,” Rivers said. “Some guys come back quickly and play pretty good, a lot of guys played a great game when they came back and then they sank a little bit into the fog.

“You could tell he’s definitely struggling to get going. Yeah, we have to keep playing with him and let him get over it.”

The Celtics have endured their own example of that with star forward Jaylen Brown, who came back from his own fight with the virus to score 46 points in Boston’s season-opening double overtime loss to the New York Knicks, only to then have some advantages. -and losses in his game after that.

However, both Embiid and Rivers were not only concerned about Embiid’s shooting problems, but also Philadelphia’s general offensive discomfort. They both talked about the pace the team is playing at that end of the court and they want it to be faster.

“We have to get Joel going,” Rivers said. “We get it going, the whole team gets going. That’s number one.”

“But it’s two games in a row. I thought the offense was mediocre. The execution is really bad right now. But then again, I’m not worried about it. We’re going to get over it. It’s just that we’re dropping games as we get through it.”

In addition to team pace, Embiid also signaled multiple times that he would like the 76ers, who have been without star point guard Ben Simmons all season while looking for a trade outside of Philadelphia, to have more ball movement.

He added that part of the difficulty in trying to get going comes from the fact that he has to do a lot of work to get clean shots.

“I haven’t had any easy all season,” Embiid said. “It feels like I have to work for everything. That’s why I said we have to communicate. I have to let my teammates and my guys know. I probably have to come up with it myself, find ways to get the easiest ones.

“I feel like I’ve had to work for everything, especially it’s difficult. They double every possession. If they double me, and I’m dribbling the ball and I’m going to take a shot, most of the time if I want to shoot. I have to go the distance. and shoot the dribble. No team is really letting me get to the paint from the moment I put the ball down. They’re sending doubles. I have to be aggressive, I have to make plays too, but most of the time, if it is going to be like this, there will be many times when I will have to shoot double teams.


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Embiid still battles for Covid aftermath