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Sixers Player of the Week: Surprise, surprise — it’s Joel Embiid

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last week of play (Friday Jan. 29th to Thursday Feb. 4th), the Philadelphia 76ers went 3-1 with victories over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets while their lone loss came against the Portland Trail Blazers. For two of those victories, Joel Embiid is largely to thank. The star big man dropped 37 points in less than 27 minutes against the Timberwolves and followed that up with a 34-point double double (11 rebounds) against the Hornets. Even in the loss to Portland, Joel was individually nearly unstoppable with another 37-pointer.

So—it should come as no surprise that the Sixers player of the week is none other than Embiid. Across his last three games, Embiid averaged 36.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 31.3 minutes per game while shooting 61.4% from the floor, 57.1% from 3PT and 91.9% from the line. His week of dominance comes on the heels of being named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for January.

Let’s take a deeper diver into each performance.

Vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Stat line: 26:38 MP, 37 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 52.6% FG, 16/18 FT

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid both out for the Timberwolves in this contest, Minnesota’s only options to defend Embiid were reserve big Ed Davis and a mix of undersized forwards. In other words, this game was primed to be a big night for Joel — and boy, did he follow through.

The Timberwolves, being totally undersized for a player of Embiid’s stature, sent Joel to the line repeatedly, for the third most single game free throw attempts of his career (18 FTA). Minnesota bigs Davis, Jaden McDaniels, and Jarred Vanderbilt combined for 13 personal fouls attempting to defend Joel. Embiid scored 21 points in the first half alone and added another 16 in the 3rd Quarter. His performance was so impactful that he was not even needed in the 4th quarter, sitting out the entire frame as the Sixers cruised to a blowout 24-point victory.

Vs. Charlotte Hornets

Stat line: 33:45 MP, 34 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 64.7% FG, 9/10 FT

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Embiid got off to hot start against Charlotte, dropping 13 points in the 1st quarter, which included this thunderous throw down after going coast to coast:

(Embiid’s 1st quarter point total matched that of the Charlotte Hornets.)

Unlike his other performances on this list, Embiid relied on the 3PT shot to get going in this one. In the first half of play, Joel sank 3 shots from beyond the arc on 5 attempts. After going 9 of 10 from the line, Embiid’s final line of 34 points was made up of 18 points from the line and 3PT combined, giving him a highly efficient scoring night.

The offensive side of the ball was not the only area where Joel shined. Embiid registered 2 steals and 2 blocks, and even that doesn’t paint the full picture. Joel stifled the Hornets offense all night long, walling off the paint from would-be scorers. The result? Charlotte converted at the rim at just 53.3%, per Cleaning The Glass. It was an all-around clinic from Joel Embiid in Charlotte.

Vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Stat line: 33:32 MP, 37 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 66.7% FG, 9/9 FT

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers may not have defeated the Trail Blazers, but it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort from Joel Embiid. Despite leaving the game briefly after tweaking his knee, Embiid matched his 5th highest point total of the 2020-21 NBA season at 37 points (yes, you read that right, his fifth highest). At this point, 30-point performances are expected out of Joel, with 8 of those on the season in just 18 appearances, including two 40-point games (vs. Miami and Boston).

The most impressive part of Embiid’s performance against the Trail Blazers? That would have to be his monstrous 2nd quarter in which he scored 25 points (by the way, that ties a franchise record for most point in a quarter by a Sixer, previously set by Andrew Toney). Joel played all 12 minutes in the 2nd quarter after leaving the 1st quarter early due to an injury scare (hyperextended knee). But upon being cleared and returning to the game, Embiid took 11 shots and sank 8 while getting to the line for a perfect 9 for 9. Embiid was so hot from the floor in the 2nd quarter that only three other Sixers even attempted field goals (Tobias Harris with 4, Danny Green with 2 and Tyrese Maxey with 1). So yes, the Sixers lost by a healthy 16 points — but, it was a historic performance from Joel in the 2nd frame and quite the statement to round out what’s been a phenomenal week of play.

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