Joel Embiid made his long-awaited return to the Philadelphia 76ers lineup on Saturday night, and despite missing nine games while under the league’s health and safety protocols, Embiid looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.
Embiid entered health and safety protocols on November 8 after contracting Covid, and in his absence, the team went 2-7 in that stretch, including five straight losses following the announcement that he would be out.
There was speculation that Embiid had “ramped up” his conditioning in preparation to return this week, and it was announced just prior to the game against the Timberwolves that Embiid would start.
Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris will play for Sixers tonight, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 27, 2021
Embiid had played in nine of the Sixers’ first ten games – only missing one to rest – prior to entering the health and safety protocols, and was averaging 21.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in those games.
There may have been concerns about Embiid’s endurance after missing so many games, but he played 45 minutes in the double-overtime loss to Minnesota, tallying a double-double of 42 points and 14 rebounds.
Embiid displayed the full arsenal in his bag, low-post drop-steps, 3-pointers, and step-back mid-range jump shots.
Over the course of the two extra sessions, he scored 13 of the team’s 20 points but he had no answer for the Timberwolves’ two late buckets that sealed the game.
This game was Embiid’s 14th career 40-10 double-double game, the most by a 76ers since the 1981-82 season.
With the loss, the Sixers drop to 10-10 on the season with a home game against Orlando to come on Monday before a four-game road trip.