Joel Embiid returned to the Philadelphia 76ers lineup after missing 10 games due to a bone bruise in his left knee and the MVP candidate picked up right where he left off.
In 28 minutes on court, he poured in 24 points, eight rebounds and two blocks to help the 76ers to a 122-113 win at home and their eighth straight win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
While the 76ers have kept things afloat in Embiid's absence, going 7-3 in those 10 games, his return was much welcomed. by the limited number of fans in the arena, giving him MVP chants pre-game and throughout.
Embiid took a little time to get going but wasn't forcing the issue, doing the dirty work, crashing the offensive glass and working several dribble-hand-offs.
He grew in confidence during a tough first-half battle with Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, trading buckets and hard fouls, with Towns getting one over Embiid in the second quarter, with the play of the night, dropping this huge poster jam.
KAT SLAM & SWAT, with AUTHORITY❗️- NBA (@NBA) April 4, 2021
📲💻: https://t.co/QYhIeWqSiu pic.twitter.com/Y5EqsTKyy2
Embiid responded with his own moment of magic for the home crowd, taking Towns off the dribble and somehow getting this and-1 circus shot to drop, despite the heavy contact.
How'd Embiid get this to drop 🤯 pic.twitter.com/kzpREsrCr1- NBA TV (@NBATV) April 4, 2021
His aggressiveness and willingness to attack the basket delivered a ton of easy points, with his ability to get to the free-throw line sorely missed.
In the 10 games he was out, the 76ers, who have been one of the best teams this season at getting to the line, averaged just 21.9 free throw attempts per game, but that changed quickly with Embiid's return as they shot 20 in the first half alone.
He finished 12-of-17 at the line, punishing the Timberwolves' smaller defenders at every turn. On the night, the 76ers went 28-of-37 at the free-throw line, with the 37 attempts, the most they've had in a game since January.
After a tight first half, Philly blew the game open at the beginning of the third quarter, going on a 13-0 run, keeping the Timberwolves scoreless for the first four minutes of the period.
Towns led the fightback, dropping 16 of his game-high 39 points in the fourth quarter, helping cut the lead down to one point late in the period, but it was Embiid who came up with the big play in crunch time on the defensive end.
Anthony Edwards tried to jam it home with the Timberwolves down seven with 15.1 seconds to go, but Embiid came up with a huge defensive play, rejecting the rookie's shot and winning the ball back for his team.
OH MY GOODNESS JOEL pic.twitter.com/GrrLYh71P7- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 4, 2021
In Embiid's absence, Tobias Harris has taken a much larger role in the 76ers offence and tonight was no different as the swingman took over down the stretch, scoring 12 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, which happened to be 12 of the 76ers final 14 points.
LET 'EM KNOW, @tobias31 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/vv2fqKq7JC- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 4, 2021
With the win, the 76ers improve to 20-4 on their home floor and 33-15 on the season as they re-take the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
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