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Joel Embiid sits out as 76ers zip past Nets 107-86; await fate in NBA postseason picture

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LA Post: Joel Embiid sits out as 76ers zip past Nets 107-86; await fate in NBA postseason picture
April 14, 2024
DAN GELSTON - AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tyrese Maxey scored 26 points for a Philadelphia 76ers team that played without Joel Embiid and seemed poised for a spot in the play-in tournament following a 107-86 win over the Brooklyn Nets with playoff seeding at stake on Sunday.

The Sixers won their eighth straight game and appeared to fall just shy of earning the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, meaning they are set to host the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament Wednesday in Philadelphia.

The 76ers expect to have Embiid, the two-time NBA scoring champion, in the lineup for the postseason.

Even with seeding that could have reached as high as fifth in the Eastern Conference at stake, the Sixers rested Embiid as a precaution, the team said. Embiid tweaked his surgically repaired left knee in a game on Friday, the latest injury setback in a career riddled with them.

A year after he was named NBA MVP, Embiid finished the season averaging 34.7 points and 11 rebounds in just 39 games. Embiid had the statistical oddity of scoring more points than minutes played, finishing with 1,353 points in 1,309 minutes.

The 76ers clearly need a healthy -- or, healthy enough -- Embiid in the postseason to give them any shot at winning a round or more in the East. The Sixers finished 31-8 with Embiid this season; 16-27 without him.

“I think that we did battle some adversity,” coach Nick Nurse said ahead of the game. “I think the main thing that I would say I’m happy with, I’m pleased with, is that our competitive drive, our spirit, I think has risen the last few months. We’re competing at a level where I think we should all expect our guys to compete at.”

All the Eastern Conference games had the same afternoon tip, leaving the playoff picture settled at around the same time. Nurse said he would try to avoid scoreboard watching and “try to keep the focus on the game and the basketball.”

With Allen Iverson and Julius Erving in the house, the Sixers shook off a shaky start -- they trailed through one quarter -- to easily handle the lowly Nets. Even Nets interim coach Kevin Ollie appreciated how good the Sixers could be with Embiid in the lineup.

“It’s going to be fun watching them in the playoffs,” he said. “Hopefully, Embiid gets back to 100%.”

Of course, full health has been a hallmark of Embiid’s career. He missed the first two seasons of his career after he was the No. 3 pick o the 2014 draft and has never played more than 68 games in a season.

Embiid said earlier this month that again sitting out from his recent knee injury “ took a toll mentally.”

“Being depressed. It was not a good one,” Embiid said. “Still not where I’m supposed to be, especially mentally.”

NET GAINS

Cam Thomas scored 18 points and Noah Clowney had 13 points. The Nets are in the process of finding another new coach for next season.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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