By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
In the first game following the blockbuster trade highlighting Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline, Joel Embiid racked up 25 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and a season-high five blocks in 35 minutes. The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder to improve to 33-22.
“Yeah, I’m happy that I’m not going to be answering any more questions about that subject,” said the Cameroonian big man avoiding mentioning departing former teammate Ben Simmons by name, “It’s good that, not just for me, but my teammates, the whole organization. The whole year, it was pretty annoying with the whole situation, but I’m glad that everybody has moved on. I wish everybody the best in whatever they want to accomplish, but I’m focused on winning games here and trying to win a championship.”
Simmons, 25, after sitting out since the 2021 offseason was traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, a 2022 first-round draft pick, and a 2027 first-round draft pick. The Sixers received James Harden and Paul Millsap.
“It was just a lot of excitement,” he said on joining forces with the former NBA MVP, “Just excited. You talk about guys that I’ve played with, he’s probably gonna be the best yet, based on what he’s accomplished in his career so far. So it’s just about getting everybody on the same page and finding the right way to play. We already have a system in place so we’ve just got to bring him along and incorporate a bunch of new stuff with a bunch of stuff that he’s good at and put it all together.”
Harden, 32, is currently dealing with hamstring tightness. Once cleared for action, he will surely lift pressure off Embiid moving into the crunch time of the 2021-22 Regular Season. The 76ers currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference standings carrying a 33-22 record, 2.5 games behind the leading Miami Heat.
“I think the way to look at it, every single time I touch a ball, there’s a double- or triple-team which is gonna make my teammates and himself even better,” he previewed the connection with Harden, “So now you really got a choice. Are you going to double me or are you going to double him? So you got to make that decision and based on every game it might change. Other teams might want to take me out of the game or other teams might want to take him out of the game. So we just adjust and then we just go from there. But like I said, it’s exciting. I never played with someone like that. So I’m just excited for the new challenge and try to go and get it done.”
The team coached by Doc Rivers is set to complete a back-to-back at Wells Fargo Center hosting the high-flying Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday.
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