Joel Embiid is expected to play Thursday night in Orlando, completing his fifth back-to-back sequence of the season.
“The notion of rest is always on our mind,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said ahead of Wednesday night’s 119-105 victory against Memphis. “But as it relates to tomorrow night in a back-to-back, I don’t think you’re going to see much change from what you’re going to see tonight.”
Brown said that he is still looking for a game to rest Embiid before the end of the regular season but indicated that it would most likely be a road contest.
“He so much wants to please the fans of Philadelphia,” Brown said. “I think that for us to say he’s going to play every one of the remaining games after tonight — 12 of them — is not going to happen. But I bet it comes with a fight.”
The Sixers are also still trying to find the right balance between rest and keeping the team as prepared as possible for a playoff run. This late in the season, giving players too much rest could run the risk of taking them out of their routine and rhythm.
“I’m playing in every game,” Embiid said. “We didn’t come this far to rest me. I was always complaining about wanting to play every game and play in back-to-backs, and I’m sure the fans were too, and we’re winning.”
Embiid added that he could understand maybe resting the final game of the season in preparation for the playoffs, but with the regular-season finale being a home game against Milwaukee, a team in the playoff race, it’s not a likely candidate for a day of rest.
Making playoffs will not satisfy Brown
The Sixers are right around the corner from their first playoff appearance since losing to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2012. Simply getting into the playoffs is not something that gets Brown overly excited.
“The notion of the playoffs for me doesn’t make me do somersaults,” he said. “I want more. I really want more.”
More includes favorable positioning, playing well in the postseason, and the trajectory of the Sixers in the seasons to come.
Brown is extremely interested in gaining home-court advantage early in the playoffs, and with the standings so tight (just 1 1/2 games separating the third and sixth seeds going into Wednesday’s games), there is still a real chance to move up the ladder.
The Sixers are 23-11 at home, and on a four-game win streak. Brown sees this as a good sign in the final stretch of the Sixers’ first successful season of his tenure.
“Moving forward, I wouldn’t want to play us. I think that we can be dangerous,” he said.