Joel Embiid explains why he had to take more responsibility for 76ers with Ben Simmons gone

Photo: David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Joel Embiid is in play to win the regular season MVP this year, after taking up more responsibility for a depleted 76ers roster in the last few weeks.

Embiid, who had another 30+ game Sunday night vs San Antonio, explained why he has taken his game up a notch, sharing his thoughts on the improvements he made.

“It’s always been there, but this year, there’s more freedom to be able to whether it’s bringing the ball up and pushing up in transition,” Embiid said in the post-game presser.

“I got more freedom to do that this year. In the previous year, we had someone that was so good in transition that you had to get the ball to him so he can make plays attack or making plays and he was so good at it. His absence obviously puts a hole in that category. That’s why I decided to kind of take my game to another level when it comes to that.”

Embiid finished the game with six assists—his best passing performance of the season —, while he continued the trend of putting up 30+ points in the road, registering his 12th consecutive road game with 30 or more points with the Sixers. It was also the 14th straight game with 25 points or more for the 76ers’ superstar.

“I still got a long way to go,” Embiid finished. “There’s so much that I can add to my game whether it’s playing off pick-and-rolls and a bunch of other stuff that I can add to my game, but yeah, I think it’s always been there.”

The superstar center had 38 points, 12 rebounds and six assists shooting a massive 50 percent (16-32) from the field. While sometimes, the 76ers seem to stagnate on offense, putting too much pressure on Embiid, Tobias Harris stated that the Sixers need to ‘lock in’ defense, especially during the fourth quarter.

“We still had too many defensive mistakes in the fourth quarter,” Harris said. “We’ve got to clean that up. We’ve got to be able to really make a stand and hold our ground there.”

The Spurs rallied, closing the game shooting 48% from the field but were only 10 for 30 on 3-pointers. However, they could not close the game, with Embiid making some timely shots in the last four minutes.

“What he’s doing is special. We rely on him night in-night out,” Harris said on Embiid. I thought tonight he just did a great job of picking the game apart and getting everybody involved. He still was able to get in the spots that he wanted”.

“… He’s being dominant all year, just playing in an extremely high level, playing a lot of minutes as well. We need to do a good job of trying to close teams out a little bit earlier, so it don’t have to be in the crunch time. Nonetheless, it was a good effort all-around and they way that he’s playing is spectacular,” Harris finished.

The Sixers, who improved to 27-19 will return to Philadelphia Tuesday to face the Pelicans, starting a five-game home stead that includes games against Memphis and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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