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Joel Embiid is on a mythical run, in middle of making his own legend

Joel Embiid is on a mythical run, in middle of making his own legend originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Joel Embiid stood up on the sidelines and everyone noticed.

He was about to sub back in, which was a delightful development for fans hoping they'd have more fantastic tales to tell.

In truth, hope wasn't even a factor at that point. When Embiid is on the court, he is a lock to score rapidly.

After a 70-point, Sixers record-setting gem in a victory Monday night vs. the Spurs at Wells Fargo Center, Embiid is at 1,156 points this season in 1,096 minutes.

“Honestly, it feels like that every game,” Tyrese Maxey said. “His shots, they all look like they’re extremely easy to him. Every (mid-range shot) he takes, every time he jabs and gets into his face-up game, you think it’s going in, honestly.

“And you know when he goes to the free-throw line, he’s going to make those, too. He has it going a lot. I don’t know. He’s just special. Extremely special.”

Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962 remains quite safe as the NBA’s highest-scoring performance ever. However, Embiid on Monday scored two more points than “The Big Dipper” ever did in a Sixers uniform.

Comparisons between the two gargantuan big men are less ludicrous than ever.

No, Embiid won’t ever post over 50 points per game in a season like Chamberlain, but he’s averaged 40.3 over his last 16 contests and shot 57.1 percent from the floor, 41.7 percent from three point range and 89.7 percent at the foul line. Games revolve around Embiid’s presence. All opposing coaches understand double teams, defensive precision and luck are required against him. You can do everything brilliantly and get burned by well-guarded 18-foot jumper after well-guarded 18-foot jumper.

Embiid’s highlights won’t be as grainy as Chamberlain’s. Still, in 50 or 60 years, the story of his career might sound mythical.

“Obviously Wilt accomplished a lot of things,” Embiid said. “The history of this league and basketball in general … to be in the same conversation, that’s pretty cool. … It was just a great night. I had it going. My teammates are extremely unselfish. They just kept giving me the ball and I just finished it."

Embiid forced San Antonio to foul him very frequently, did determined work on the offensive glass, and drained bread-and-butter jumpers at the nail and elbows.

He’s also right that it wasn’t a solo show.

Embiid, who’s got a career-best assist-to-usage ratio of 0.83 (according to Cleaning the Glass), recorded five assists and only one turnover. And outside of their franchise cornerstone, the Sixers totaled 23 assists and three giveaways. Nicolas Batum recognized high-low windows, threw spot-on passes and helped Embiid score regularly inside.

The Sixers have gone 26-6 when Embiid has played this season. Victor Wembanyama was a towering, intriguing young opponent, but individuals rarely seem to matter much when the reigning MVP is looking to score.

“There’s times when I kind of think … unless there’s an all-out assault or double team on him (and) they’re sending multiple people, he’s going to probably score,” Sixers head coach Nick Nurse said.

Embiid absolutely expects to.

“I try to do it every single night on both ends of the floor,” he said. “That’s really the mindset — just try to go out and dominate.

“I’m really just pushing myself and challenging myself every single night. What else can I do? What else can I add to my game? Can I try something new and see if it works or if it doesn’t?”

No question a colossal chunk of Embiid's game works.

There’s always room for more, though. As long as he’s on the floor, hard to count anything out.

“Should’ve had 80,” Maxey joked.