Joel Embiid out with back tightness for finale of Sixers' mini-series against Pistons

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Noah Levick
·2 min read
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Embiid misses finale of Sixers' mini-series against Pistons originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eastern Conference's reigning Player of the Week won't play in the Sixers' Monday night game against the Pistons.

Joel Embiid will miss the finale of the Sixers-Pistons mini-series with back tightness, the third game he's missed this season for that reason. He also sat out the Sixers' Jan. 16 loss to the Grizzlies because of right knee pain. The Sixers entered Monday's game 0-3 without their All-Star center and 12-5 overall.

After the Sixers' victory Friday over the Celtics, Embiid said his back was "pretty sore" after he took a couple of hard falls in the second half. However, he ultimately played Saturday, recording 33 points and 14 rebounds as the Sixers won their third consecutive game. 

"His back is stiff and obviously we want to get through the season with everyone healthy," head coach Doc Rivers said. "It’s the right thing to do.”

Rivers expects Embiid will play for the Sixers on Wednesday against the Lakers, though he is not yet sure.

“Yeah, I expect, but I never know," he said. "I don’t know if anyone knows yet. We’ll wait and see.” 

Embiid scored 113 points on only 54 field-goal attempts over the past week. He's been tremendously valuable on both ends of the court and impressed backup big man Dwight Howard.

"I'm so proud of his growth, his maturity on the court, how he's handled double teams, triple teams, getting fouled," Howard said Monday after the Sixers' shootaround. "He's doing an amazing job. One thing I see is a different dog in him. He's dunking, he's yelling at people. He's like, 'Nah, this is my year.'

"I just love what he's doing and I'm so proud of him. I just want him to continue to play at his pace and stay humble and stay hungry. Those are the two biggest areas for him — stay humble and hungry — and he's going to be great. He already is great, but I'm just really happy for him."

Howard, who was averaging 13.6 points and 16.7 rebounds per 36 minutes heading into Monday's game, said his preparation is the same in situations where Embiid is questionable leading into tip-off.

The 35-year-old also tossed in a joke about the unusual play Saturday night in which rookie Isaiah Stewart ripped off a piece of his shorts and Howard was the one called for a foul.

“It’s no different," Howard said. "My job is to come in the game and be physical, get rebounds, get my guys open, bring the energy and bring the pain. And a couple of times get my shorts ripped off and get some (technical fouls)."