With all that drama surrounding Joel Embiid before the All-Star break, 76ers coach Brett Brown says he feels his three-time All-Star center is in the best frame of mind to tackle the final third of the NBA regular season.
Brown was asked a question about Embiid’s physical condition after Wednesday’s practice, but first began by speaking glowingly of his mindset.
“I think the place that interests me the most, where I see his conditioning being incrementally getting to an elite level is his head,” Browns said as the Sixers (34-21) returned to practice from the All-Star break, preparing for Thursday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Brooklyn Nets. " I think like he is in a space that is excellent, as it relates to his excitement, seeing this final third home."
Before the break Embiid was garnering plenty of negative attention. From shushing fans to suggesting on social media that he might to join former teammate Jimmy Butler with Miami, he was a lightning rod for criticism.
Things have died down, especially after Embiid spoke following the Sixers’ last game, a 110-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 11.
“They went at me, I went back at them,” Embiid said of the fans after the game “We are human beings. If I can take it, then everybody else can take it, too. We move on.”
Brown feels that Embiid, who is averaging 22.9 points and 11.9 rebounds, is ready to “grab the team by the throat and lead us in a bunch of different areas."
The Sixers’ coach for the last seven seasons, Brown is the only NBA head coach Embiid has had.
“I’ve been with him a long time and when I look at him and I talked to him ... I just think he’s in a really good space,” Brown said.
Brown also is encouraged by the fact that Embiid is no longer wearing a split on his left hand. He played the All-Star Game without it and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, but his squad, Team Giannis lost, 157-155, to team LeBron.
Embiid eturned on Jan. 28 after missing nine games with a torn ligament in his left ring finger and had been wearing the split ever since until Sunday.
Brown was also pleased with Embiid’s physical conditioning.
“As it relates to the physical conditioning, we just went up and down hard for about 60 minutes, you know, really, up and down, up and down, up and down, saw no drop-off,” Brown said.