KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Joel Embiid confirmed something that we already knew.
The 76ers center discussed not having fun earlier this season on the latest episode of The Old Man & The Three podcast with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter. Redick played two seasons with the Sixers before signing with the New Orleans Pelicans last summer. He and Embiid have remained close.
“I won’t lie,” Embiid said, “during the season, I was not myself. I was not there. I just wasn’t comfortable. The offense wasn’t the same, basketball was not the same to me.”
That had to do with Redick signing with the Pelicans and the Sixers trading away Jimmy Butler last summer. Embiid and Redick excelled in the dribble-handoff, while he and Butler were successful in pick-and-rolls.
“The way things happened last summer, it was just so frustrating,” Embiid continued. “So I was kind of mad at the whole world and I was just like, ‘Eh, what. I’m just coming to work, and I’m going to do my best,’ but I wasn’t playing up to my standards.”
Embiid was voted an All-Star starter for the third consecutive season, but his averages took a hit. He averaged 23.5 points and 11.8 rebounds this season, compared to 27.5 and 13.6 last season.
“It was a big change, but you adjust,” Embiid said. “Every year is going to be different, and this year was different. But I still believe.
“We’ve got a big chance to make it happen. We can win the whole thing.”
The Sixers (42-29) are sixth in the Eastern Conference standings with two seeding games remaining. They’ll most likely face the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the playoffs.
Alec Burks had been a terror off the bench in the previous two games entering Tuesday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns.
He had 22 points against the Orlando Magic on Thursday and scored 20 against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. While the Sixers rested some starters Tuesday, Burks started and delivered 23 points in the 130-117 loss to the Suns.