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Joel Embiid’s presence elevates Sixers’ perimeter defense

Opposing guards have racked up a lot of points in the three games Embiid missed.

Sixers center Joel Embiid (21) has a huge impact on Sixers perimeter defense.
Sixers center Joel Embiid (21) has a huge impact on Sixers perimeter defense.Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

SALT LAKE CITY — The 76ers’ perimeter defense takes a hit whenever Joel Embiid doesn’t play.

For proof, look at what opposing guards did against the Sixers during the three games their center missed for either suspension or a sprained right ankle.

Detroit Pistons reserve point guard Derrick Rose scored 31 points on Oct. 26 when Embiid was sidelined with the ankle injury.

Then on Saturday, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard had 33 points as Embiid served the first of a two-game suspension for fighting Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns on Oct. 30. Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker torched them for 40 points Monday as Embiid served the second game of the suspension.

“There’s always a little bit more heat you can put in the perimeter offensive players [when Embiid plays] because you got a 7-foot-2, maybe the league’s best rim protector,” coach Brett Brown said. “There’s always fires he can put out just through random acts of judgment.”

Mike Conley the “class veteran”

Brown has always been a fan of Mike Conley from the point guard’s days as a fringe All-Star with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies traded him to the Jazz on July 6 in exchange for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 protected first-round pick.

The 13th-year veteran averaged 12.4 points, 3.9 assists and 1.0 steals through seven games with the Jazz.

Brown said Conley provides the Jazz with another pick-and-roll guard and another elite scorer, who is an incredible passer.

He’s a “class veteran,” the coach said.

The Jazz are doing a great job of designing and coaching the team, Brown added.

“So the spirit and personality [newcomers Bojan Bogdanovic, Jeff Green and Conley], they are some good people that can play,” he said. "You have a high-character program.

“I think Mike is as good as there is in that space.”