The 76ers will be without their best player Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Joel Embiid is taking the night off because of a planned rest day. The MVP front-runner had played in 21 consecutive games, which is the second-longest streak of his career. Embiid played in 26 straight games to start the 2018-19 season.
But what determined that this much-anticipated game against the Grizzlies would be the planned rest day?
The Sixers faced the struggling Sacramento Kings on Saturday and will meet the losing Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
“I really don’t get that much involved in it, to be honest with you,” said coach Doc Rivers, who deferred to the medical staff. “They come and present their calendar. They thought this was the right day with the amount of rest we can get him. So that’s why we did it.”
The Sixers’ 126-91 setback to the Grizzlies at FedEx Forum on Dec. 13 was the last game he missed this season. He has now missed four straight meetings against the Grizzlies.
In the most recent occurrence, Embiid was scratched right before the start of the game with right rib soreness. The PA announcer didn’t even know Embiid was sidelined and announced his name in the starting lineup.
After finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds in a five-point home loss to the Miami Heat on Dec. 15, he’s been on a magical run.
The MVP candidate has averaged 33.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists while shooting 54.2% from the field over the last 20 games, leading the Sixers to a 15-5 record. Embiid is second in the league in scoring at 29.13 points per game. Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant is the league’s leading scorer at 29.25, while the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James is third at 29.08.
After three consecutive home games against struggling opponents, the battle tested Grizzlies were supposed to serve as a better barometer for Embiid and the Sixers. Now, this game has lost some luster, as the Sixers are 3-8 without Embiid this season.
Swingman Furkan Korkmaz is also listed as questionable with a left knee soreness. Guard Shake Milton will miss his 14th consecutive game with a back contusion. Memphis swingman Dillon Brooks is sidelined with a sprained left ankle, while guard Tyus Jones (COVID-19 health and safety protocols) is questionable.
The Sixers (30-19) are looking to extend their winning streak to five games. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies (35-17) hope to win their fourth straight game.