Joel Embiid dominated on Wednesday as he celebrated his 28th birthday. The Sixers’ MVP candidate was originally questionable to play against the Cavaliers due to back soreness, but took to the court and went off for 35 points on 13-of-19 shooting, 17 rebounds and five assists.
For Friday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, Embiid is again listed as questionable with back soreness.
As the team continues to monitor Embiid carefully, we may see him flipping between “questionable” and “available” status over the next couple of games. Even when Embiid was listed as questionable before facing the Cavs, ahead of the game Doc Rivers still said he was expecting Embiid to play.
The Sixers will have another challenging night on Friday. The Mavs have revamped their offense after trading Kristaps Porzingis and bringing in Spencer Dinwiddie, and their new guard has immediately upped his game to support Luka Doncic. Dallas has a 10-2 record in its last 12 games since Dinwiddie took to the court, with Dinwiddie averaging 17.9 points on 50/43.1/73 shooting splits and 4.3 assists in this stretch. Doncic is absolutely on fire right now too, averaging 33.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 8.4 assists with a 60.4 true shooting percentage over his last 19 games.
With how expertly Doncic can manipulate opponents in pick-and-rolls, and use his change of pace, craft and strength to get into the paint (not to mention how shifty Dinwiddie is as a downhill finisher), the Sixers could really use Embiid’s defense in this matchup.
After Friday’s game against the Mavs, the Sixers will have one day off before another tough home back-to-back, starting with Toronto on Sunday and ending with Miami on Monday.