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October 10, 2019

Practice notes: Joel Embiid set to miss Sixers preseason game as part of load management plan

In accordance with his load management plan, Sixers center Joel Embiid is set to miss Friday's preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets, a team spokesman confirmed to reporters on Thursday afternoon.

Embiid is still scheduled to play in Sunday's game against the Orlando Magic, though an exact minute count has yet to be determined for the big man in that game. 

After two weeks of preseason work, the Sixers head on their first road trip together without any health issues to speak of, and Embiid's planned rest is not a reflection of any new developments. In fact, according to those with knowledge of the situation, there were several options on the table for how to handle Embiid's workload on the mini road trip, including scenarios where he appeared in both games in a limited capacity. Ultimately, it was decided this was the best path forward for Embiid and the team.

For the rest of the players, that provides an opportunity for the Sixers to get experience playing without the big man, with offseason signing Al Horford anchoring the team at the five. Brett Brown has yet to decide who will start in Embiid's place, and he noted this year's roster allows him to consider several different options.

"To be able to take this opportunity knowing that it's coming when Joel will be out some games this year, I am [excited]," Brown said. "I can move Tobias up to a four and fill in underneath, or I could keep Tobias at a three and say start Mike Scott...the ripple effects that it makes me have to figure out are also interesting."

Playing without Embiid is not the inconvenience it has been over the last two seasons, it is a foundational part of the season-long plan. This will be everyone's first chance to see what that adds up to for Philadelphia, and unlike on Tuesday, it will be against NBA competition, providing a more useful measuring stick of the Embiid-less Sixers.

In their first exhibition game against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions, Brown's overarching plan was to treat the first half closer to a real game with a semblance of a rotation, only to ease off in the second half and take a look at different lineup combinations. The deeper the Sixers get into the preseason, Brown says, we should expect that to expand deeper into games so the Sixers can get their legs under them and build chemistry with a new-look unit.

As far as the Sixers are concerned, there couldn't be a better option to step into Embiid's shoes at the five than Horford, and they'll prepare for Friday's game the same as they would have otherwise.

"Al's a great guy," Mike Scott said, having played with him previously in Atlanta. "He's a professional, hard worker, he has great work ethic, he knows the game, he's a leader. He's breaking down plays, he's stopping the defense and talking to us, telling us how to defend certain players and plays." 

"He stays within himself. It's what's always great about Al, sometimes he's too unselfish. He's a four or five-time All-Star, great person, plays the right way, makes the extra pass. He could get 20 and 10 if he wanted to, but he knows his role and plays within the system."

The Sixers tip-off against the Charlotte Hornets at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night. As of this moment, there are no local TV broadcast plans for this game or the following game in Orlando that have been announced.

Other notes

• For your reading pleasure, here is Mike Scott detailing his victory over Tobias Harris in a post-practice shooting competition.

I just want to say I just busted Tobias' ass over there in shooting, so shout out to Tobias Harris, he owes me his per diem for this trip. He's a great man, I busted that ass though today.

We have a little shooting game that we do. I didn't really kill him, but I won by one spot, so he let me win and now he has to hear it. And he owes me his per diem, so I might get the rookies something from the mall. When he beat me last year, I had to handle it with my money, so he will, I ain't going to press him. He will.

It's an after practice thing but especially when we're about to go on a trip, we get our per diem and we like to up the ante a little bit. Today I won, so I need that. It feels good just to beat such a great player, great shooter, and he has to hear me talk shit for a while, it's great.

When asked if we would force Harris to wear gear from the University of Virginia as additional punishment, Scott said, "Nah, I wouldn't do that, I'll just take his money." Last season, that amounted to $133 a day, so I'm sure Scott will get plenty of use out of it.

PhillyVoice reached out for an official comment from Harris' camp following Scott's victory presser. We will update this story as appropriate.

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