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Joel Embiid out for Sixers’ game at Washington Wizards with non-COVID illness

Embiid also missed the win at Toronto on Friday as he dealt with knee soreness. He played in Saturday’s victory at Chicago, finishing with 25 points and hitting the game-winning three-pointer.

Sixers center Joel Embiid could miss his team's Monday game against the Washington Wizards with a non-COVID illness.
Sixers center Joel Embiid could miss his team's Monday game against the Washington Wizards with a non-COVID illness.Read moreHeather Khalifa / Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON — Joel Embiid will miss the 76ers’ game Monday night at the Washington Wizards with a non-COVID illness.

Embiid, who finished second in the MVP voting the last two seasons, also missed the Sixers’ win Friday at Toronto because of a sore knee. He returned for Saturday’s victory at Chicago, finishing with 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting, seven rebounds, and four assists and hitting what turned out to be the game-winning three-pointer with 18.1 seconds remaining. Embiid also has been upping his conditioning after dealing with plantar fasciitis in the lead-up to training camp.

When Embiid was out Friday, coach Doc Rivers started P.J. Tucker as a small-ball center and moved guard De’Anthony Melton into the starting lineup. Rivers said he “most likely” will go with that group Monday, though Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed are also options to play center.

“We pretty much know we have to spread the floor and play with speed,” Rivers said during his pregame news conference. “Without Joel, we’re not a big basketball team. ... We have to play with better pace, [and] our smalls have to rebound.”

Rivers, who described Embiid’s illness as flu-like symptoms, was unsure how long the All-NBA big man would be out. After Monday’s game in Washington, the Sixers host the Wizards on Wednesday and then play the Knicks on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We were doing it before [the pandemic],” Rivers said, “if someone had the flu, you typically decided to keep them away from the team. It just benefits the team better.”

House not concerned with dwindling minutes

Rivers’ continued tinkering with the Sixers’ early-season rotation has meant more minutes for Matisse Thybulle and fewer for Danuel House Jr. lately.

After playing at least 16 minutes during the first four games — typically as the second perimeter player off the bench after Melton — House has seen his playing time dwindle in each of the Sixers’ last four games. He played a season-low 10 minutes in Saturday’s victory at Chicago, totaling three points but no rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks.

“It’s a team game, so I can’t really get too overwhelmed and too locked into myself,” House told The Inquirer following Monday’s shootaround. “There’s too much going on for me to be thinking of myself. You’ve just got to sit back and play the game.”

Rivers initially slotted House higher on the depth chart at least partially because of the way he played off Sixers All-Star James Harden, a former teammate with the Houston Rockets. Thybulle, though, has given a lift to what had been a leaky Sixers defense through their first four games.

House also initially struggled with his shot, missing six of his first seven three-point attempts in the Sixers’ first four games before making two of his last four attempts entering Monday. House is a career 36.5% shooter from long range, including going 41.5% on 3.3 attempts over 25 games with the Utah Jazz last season.

“It feels really good coming off my hands,” House said. “I can’t complain. I’m getting looks. It’s going to come.”