Embiid will sit tonight at home, play on the road; Okafor OK for both games
The Sixers announced this morning that center Joel Embiid will not play tonight against the Washington Wizards, but will tomorrow against Minnesota. Fellow center Jahlil Okafor is set to play both games.
The red mark was placed next to Joel Embiid's name on Wednesday morning in Brett Brown's office, meaning the 7-2 rookie won't play Wednesday night when the 76ers face Washington at the Wells Fargo Center.
Conversely, a green mark accompanied the name of Jahlil Okafor, which means he will play with a 24-minute restriction when the Sixers (1-9) face the Wizards (2-7). It will be the first game of back-to-backs for both teams as the Sixers will travel to Minnesota for a game on Thursday and the Wizards will host the New York Knicks.
Embiid will be unrestricted Thursday, and Okafor will play under a to-be-determined minutes restriction.
The meeting with the Timberwolves will be the Sixers' fifth game in seven days, which will also include three on the road. That, of course, is problematic for the team as both Embiid and Okafor are saddled with the minutes restrictions and aren't yet cleared to play in back-to-back games. After Thursday, the team will already have played three back-to-backs and will be coming off a stretch in which it played eight games in 13 days.
Both big men were available on Monday in Houston during the team's 27-point blowout loss to the Rockets. Embiid was decent in his 22 minutes of action, posting his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but he also turned the ball over six times and committed five fouls. Okafor struggled mightily at both ends of the floor, as he shot just 2 for 11 from the floor, scored four points, grabbed just three rebounds, and was a minus-21 in his 21 minutes.
"It's kind of new to everybody, including our teammates," Okafor said of the shuffling of big men. "Joe and I are switching and they're getting used to both of us. One night I'm playing; one night he's playing. It's an adjustment for everybody, but we're just working as hard as we can to figure it all out."
The good news coming out is that Okafor will be available to play on consecutive nights for the first time this season.
"I am allowed to play back-to-back," Okafor said. "They're not sure how many minutes I'll be allowed to play tomorrow. It all depends on how tonight goes and how I'll feel after. But just to know that they think I'm able to play back-to-back is a sign of progress."
For the season, Embiid has been the lone bright spot for the Sixers so far as he's averaged 18 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 46.5 percent from the floor, including 7 for 14 from the three-point line. He is doing all that in just 22.1 minutes per contest.
Okafor, unaccustomed to coming off the bench, has averaged 16.5 points and 6.6 rebounds, while shooting 50.8 percent, during his 19.1 minutes.