Sixers' Joel Embiid says he's in a slump, adapting to toll of long season

Joel Embiid, right, of the Sixers gets fouled hard by Willy Hernangomez of the Hornets during the 3rd quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on March 2, 2018.

MIAMI – Joel Embiid has failed to produce a Joel Embiid-type performance in his last two games. And the 76ers center will be the first to say it.

“In a season, you’re going to go through slumps,” he said, “and I feel like I have been playing bad recently, although the box score might not say it.”

Embiid has averaged 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, three assists, 1.5 blocks and five turnovers in the last two games.

He had 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two blocks and seven turnovers in Sunday’s 118-110 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. With his team being outscored 33-14 in the decisive third quarter, Embiid wasn’t a factor. He missed all three of his shots while finishing with two points and grading out at minus-11 in the quarter.


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Then on Tuesday at Charlotte, the big man had a slow start, finishing the first half with just four points on 1-for-4 shooting. He missed all three of his first-quarter attempts. He did, however, turn things on after intermission with 14 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Embiid ended the game with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and three turnovers in the 128-114 victory over the Hornets.

While not bad, these performances aren’t the dominant post player is assumed to. Embiid averages 23.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 blocks and 3.9 turnovers. He has scored 30 or more points eight times, including a career-high 46.

Reserve wing Justin Anderson disagrees with Embiid’s assertion that he’s coming off two bad games. Anderson just thinks the standard is just set high.

“Jo thinks if he doesn’t score 30 and [have] 10 rebounds, it’s a bad game,” said Anderson, interrupting Embiid saying he was in a funk.

Embiid agreed, acknowledging that he set the bar high for himself.

“I feel like every night that I come out I have to do that,” he said of finishing with 30 points and 10 rebounds.

He’ll get an opportunity to do that in Thursday’s road game against the Miami Heat.

However, his recent failure to duplicate this season’s averages could have something to do with fatigue.

Since the all-star break, the Sixers have played eight games in 13 days. The team was coming off a stretch of three games in four days heading into the Milwaukee game. That’s all new for Embiid, who wasn’t cleared to play on consecutive nights until February.

His 51 games played this season are 20 more than he played last season after sitting out his first two years due to foot surgeries. Embiid said the plan at the start of the season was for him to play just 45 to 50 games.

“It’s a change,” he said. “I’ve got to get adapted to that, never done it in my life. I’m starting to figure it out.”

He’s figuring out that he must pick his spots and let the game come to him, offensively.

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