THE EXPERIMENT got mixed results.
For the first time this season, Sixers coach Brett Brown started Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together when the team hosted the Toronto Raptors.
Brown initially said he saw some very good things following the 123-114 loss.
True, there were flashes, like the time Embiid pump-faked a defender out of the play, dribbled toward the basket and then shuffled a gorgeous pass to Okafor for an easy slam.
But there were some drawbacks, too. With Okafor manning the low post, that meant Embiid spent most of the night away from the basket on the offensive end. He seemed uncomfortable on offense for the first time in his 16 NBA games, he didn't score in double figures. Embiid shot the ball just six times in his 27 minutes; he finished with nine points and six rebounds. Okafor, in his natural position near the basket, still was suspect defensively but managed 17 points in 30 minutes.
"I've got to work on it and it's just a matter of me finding my spots in the flow of the offense," said Embiid, who was listed as probable for Friday's home game against the Lakers though he twisted an ankle in pregame warmups Wednesday and suffered a left knee contusion in a collision with Dario Saric in practice Thursday.
"(Wednesday) I was kind of frustrated. I'm not a three-point shooter and I don't want to take a lot of threes. I want to be dominant on the block, but I was kind of frustrated because I wasn't as much on the block."
Also, the ball movement wasn't as sharp as it had been lately. With the two bigs on the floor, Ersan Ilyasova was on the bench to start the game. Ilyasova has been a big part of the improved ball movement. So, could he be worked into the big-man mix?
"It's all on the table, isn't it?" Brown said. "(Ilyasova) said that he can (play with Embiid and Okafor). For different reasons, he does have the ability to do that. When he first came into the league, he wasn't always a stretch four. He has been a three man, so it's not out of his wheelhouse. You could. That is true but not the answer; our four and five men in our structure are quarterbacks, they get the ball a lot. If you had Ersan over at a three, he's not quarterbacking the gym. I see it more that position more than that player. We are right now, with Jahlil and Joel and Nerlens (Noel) and Richaun (Holmes), reminding them always the importance of that position to move the ball. It can't stick. It's all going to take time.
"That's life in our land right now and I hope we all, led by me, find it an exciting opportunity. It comes with a level of pain because you're not as fluid as you used to be and you're going back to teach and training and you're trying to find camaraderie on the court. But that's just where we're at."
Once again, rookie Ben Simmons, recovering from a fractured right foot, was on the practice floor Thursday without a boot. Simmons didn't do anything but dribble a ball and observe, then had a conversation with Brett Brown for a while.
" 'What do you see?' 'What do you think?' 'How are you feeling?' 'What did you think of the game?' We talk all the time," Brown said of his conversations with Simmons. "It's interesting listening to him. He's got a very clear way of what he thinks, which is good. There's a strength there. It's always that type of stuff.
"There's a competitive side that I can't wait to coach. He's steady, he's been well-raised. His background with his mom and dad is A-plus. The agency, with Rich Paul, grooming him with Rich's experience with LeBron (James) is really strong. He's been nice and steady."
The Sixers said Nerlens Noel (sprained left ankle) is questionable for Friday's game. Jerryd Bayless (wrist) remains out. Everyone else seems ready to go.