76ers' Joel Embiid Out vs. Grizzlies, Thunder Because of Knee Injury Maintenance

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid won't be with the team on their two-game weekend road trip against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder.  

Per John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Sixers are keeping their All-Star center in Philadelphia to "train and receive treatment" on his right knee. 

Clark noted the move "is precautionary and not believed to be serious."

The 26-year-old has been excellent for the new-look Sixers in the 2020-21 season, averaging 25 points and 11.5 rebounds per game on 53.6 percent shooting. But per usual, he has also missed his share of games, as Philly looks to keep its big man healthy and fresh for a deep postseason run. 

The Sixers will take Embiid missing a handful of games so long as he's 100 percent for the playoffs, as he makes a strong case as the NBA's best two-way center. On offense, he's virtually impossible to slow down in the post without sending double teams, and his shot-blocking and interior presence is the cornerstone of Philly's excellent defense. 

Questions remain about whether the pair of Embiid and Ben Simmons can ultimately lead the Sixers to an NBA title. On the offensive side, they remain a dubious fit, with both best served to operate down low given Simmons' aversion to perimeter shooting, though the perimeter shooters the team added this offseason have helped to space the floor. 

Defensively, however, they are a dynamic duo, with Embiid patrolling the paint and Simmons big enough, athletic enough and versatile enough to guard an opponent's best perimeter scorer. He's one of the rare five-position defenders in the NBA. 

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Any games Embiid misses put the Sixers in a tough spot, as he's the team's best player. But Philly has solid depth at center, with veteran Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley available at the position.