Sixers' Joel Embiid explains his social media trolling of Timberwolves' Karl-Antony Towns

76ers Timberwolves Basketball
Sixers center Joel Embiid drives against Timberwolves’ center Karl-Anthony Towns.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns became Joel “Tro-el” Embiid’s latest social-media victim.

On Wednesday, the 76ers center posted a grainy photo on Instragram of himself driving in for an easy basket during Tuesday’s victory over the Timberwolves in Minneapolis. Towns and Minnesota guard Jimmy Butler stood helplessly in the background as Embiid euro-stepped. The caption read “Euro stepping our way through Minnesota and we ended up raising the cat last night” #The Process

Euro stepping our way through Minnesota and we ended up raising the cat last night #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

“Raising the Cat” is the Sixers’ victory slogan started by Sixers fan Dennis Grove. However, one could argue that Embiid was taking a shot at Towns, whose nickname is KAT. Apparently, that’s what the Timberwolf thought.

He replied on Instagram, “That caption was as trash as your picture quality.”

Embiid came back with “@karltowns Better quality than you defense.”

“Like I’ve said before, I don’t ever start things,” Embiid said after Thursday’s practice. “I mean things just come up to me, and I just go with the flow. I just posted the picture. I felt like we got a great win on the road last night. I had a great euro step …”

Embiid then explained that raising the cat was for the victory and not Towns. He winked to no one in particular after saying that maybe Towns thought his caption was about him.

“He made a comment and you know they call me ‘Tro-el Embiid,’ and I don’t let things go by,” said Embiid, who has a reputation for trolling opposing players on social media. “I saw it. I felt like that needed a reaction from me. I think I had a pretty good comeback.”

He said the exchange was nothing more than having fun. He added that social media is a way to express himself. Plus, there’s no ill will between the two centers, who are close friends … when off the court.

“Off the court, we are friends and stuff,” Embiid said. “On the court, I want to kick his ass.”

Covington cleared to play

Camera icon STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Robert Covington has sat out the last two Sixers games.

Robert Covington will play in Friday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers small forward, who turned 27 on Thursday, has missed the last two games because of a lower-back contusion.

“I’ve been feeling good,” he said Thursday. “The past few days I have been doing a lot of rehab, a lot of a acupuncture stuff.”

Covington said he didn’t have any limitations Thursday. In Wednesday’s acupuncture session, he “did a lot of movement, and a lot stuff that really opened up my back,” he said.

The Chicago native suffered the injury with 68 seconds left in Saturday night’s setback against the Cleveland Cavaliers when he fell into the stands while trying to save the ball. His lower back and upper buttocks hit a metal object near the Cavs’ bench.

He remained behind the bench on his back during a Sixers timeout and had to be helped off the court. His CT scan and X-rays were negative.  As a result of the spill, the fifth-year veteran had been dealing with back stiffness.

“I didn’t expect to sit out the last two games,” Covington said. “I thought it would be a bad bruise and the next day I would be fine.

“But I guess the reaction to the accident was heightened based off the next day how I felt.”

In addition to his stiffness, Covington didn’t have his usual range of motion.

Gaming club

The Sixers revealed Thursday that 76ers Gaming Club is the branding identity for their NBA 2K League team.  Qualifying for the league takes place online from Jan 1-31. The league begins in May … The Sixers will don their red “Statement” jerseys  for the first time on Friday.