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Nick Nurse looking forward to reintegrating Joel Embiid into offense

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers picked up an impressive 109-105 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night at home. The Sixers, missing Tyrese Maxey and others in the contest, welcomed Joel Embiid back to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 30.

The offense looked a bit clunky. This was the first time Kyle Lowry and Buddy Hield had played with Embiid, and the Sixers had issues finding a smooth offensive groove. Philadelphia was able to work through it.

Coach Nick Nurse sees the issues that bothered his team, but is looking forward to the challenges of reintegrating a mega star such as Embiid.

“There’s certainly got to be that factor of like, what the heck’s going on?” Nurse said after the win. “I mean, when I pulled Kyle into the office before the game to say hey, Joel’s playing, and his first thing was like ‘Man, I don’t know how to play with this dude’ and I’m like, ‘You’ll be alright. You’re gonna be OK out there. Just go out there and play through it and feel your way through the game.’ That’s one.”

On the flip side, the Thunder are a top-10 defensive team. Even with Embiid back in the lineup, it was going to be a challenge to try and score against that Oklahoma City defense.

“Two, I want to give them some credit they were playing really good defense,” Nurse added. “They really do a good job on a lot of things. They help each other a lot and they recover well, right?”

From a player’s perspective, the Sixers must work through the clunkiness and work Embiid back into things out on the floor. However, Embiid’s high basketball IQ makes things rather easy in that department.

“No challenge,” smiled Tobias Harris. “I mean, obviously, the biggest thing is just us figuring out what we’re running and whatnot, but having him on the floor gave us some more structure offensively of what we were doing going back to a bunch of sets we were running when he was out there on the floor.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Nurse and the Sixers will be Embiid working himself back into shape and getting him on the same page with everybody.

“I would say the biggest challenge is just him continuing to work himself into his type of playing shape,” Harris added. “I thought tonight (Tuesday) he did a great job of just willing through. He came out there, played in a different type of minutes setting and he was able to just go out there and give us that huge effort that he always brings.”

The Sixers have six games left in the 2023-24 season. They look to carry Tuesday’s effort with them into this final stretch and postseason.

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire