The Philadelphia 76ers are slated to play the Charlotte Hornets on Friday evening in what will be Philly’s second preseason matchup of 2019. Joel Embiid will not be playing in the game “in accordance with his planned care program” according to Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
Al Horford will start against Charlotte in the Sixers’ second preseason game, Brett Brown said after Thursday’s practice. Embiid won’t play “in accordance with his planned care program,” according to a team spokesperson, but is expected to play in Sunday’s game at the Magic.
As Levick notes, Horford will start at center in Joel’s absence. Levick went on to quote Brett Brown speaking to how he’s planning to address the moving parts:
“I am [excited,] because it’s coming,” he said. “To be able to take this opportunity and knowing that it’s coming, that Joel will be out some games this year, I am. What it does is I can move Tobias [Harris] up to a four and fill in underneath. Or I can keep Tobias at a three and start Mike Scott — I’ll figure out what I’m doing. But your point is true, and there are the ripple effects that we have to figure out.”
Brown hadn’t yet made a decision on the replacement for Embid in the starting lineup. Scott is an option, as he said. Starting a wing instead — perhaps impressive rookie Matisse Thybulle — is another possibility. Brown indicated that, at this point, “figuring out what we have” is his highest priority, not tailoring the lineup to best match up against a preseason opponent.
This should all be music to Sixers fans’ ears. Joel Embiid’s health is priority no. 1 for this franchise and while we really need to wait and see how seriously the team takes his “load management” in the regular season, it’s refreshing to see it’s already being addressed while having the assurance that team defense won’t fall off a cliff as a result with Horford sliding up (not that it really matters in the preseason). Then, there’s the cherry on top: rookie Matisse Thybulle has impressed Brown enough that Thybulle is in the conversation for the role of spot starter.
I’m actually pretty excited that Joel’s not playing. The game has no significance and I’d like to see some interesting players outside of the starters get substantial tic, all the while keeping Joel from putting unnecessary wear and tear on his body. It’s a win-win.