Former Philadelphia 76ers great Charles Barkley never wastes an opportunity to criticize his former team. Last night at halftime of the 76ers/Pacers contest, Barkley called the 76ers " The stupidest organization in the history of sports..." Barkley's comments were in reference to Sixers center Joel Embiid's back issues over the last few days. The decision to play Embiid last night came prior to tip-off.
Embiid scored 22 points, grabbed 13 boards, handed out 8 assists and blocked 3 shots in 35 minutes of action as the 76ers cruised to a 120-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
The win comes at the beginning of an important 12-game stretch for the Sixers as they hope to gain ground in the Eastern Conference while developing some cohesiveness on and off the court. Jimmy Butler led the team with 27 points. Ben Simmons struggled with turnovers, but managed to finish the night with 11 points, 8 boards and 8 dimes. J.J. Redick added 20 points, connecting on 6 of 9 three point attempts.
The story was of the night was Embiid, who has worn the injury-prone tag since entering the NBA. There's plenty of truth to what Barkley said about the Sixers playing Embiid at this point in the season with such an injury. But no one knows their own body better than the guy in it.
There was no doubt Embiid was in pain throughout the contest, but he remained aggressive throughout, putting a stamp on his commitment during this crucial point of the season where things can go either way.
The Sixers have to be given some credit for taking off the kid gloves and trusting Embiid's word. Under the same circumstances, I don't believe Embiid plays in this game last season and definitely not two seasons ago.
With Thursday's night's performance, Joel Embiid has set new bar for himself the Sixers to follow for the remainder of the regular season and beyond.