"Trust the Process" but where to now for the Philadelphia 76ers?

That mantra has become synonymous with the team's culture and identity since former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie started a drastic rebuild of Philadelphia's roster and psyche in 2013.

The long-term vision, in pursuit of a first NBA championship since 1983, has delivered stars Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and two trips to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

However, the 76ers find themselves looking for a head coach after Brett Brown – who was at the helm as Philadelphia tanked out and started from the bottom seven years ago – was sacked following a first-ever series sweep at the hands of rivals the Boston Celtics.

While the 76ers were forced to face the Celtics without Simmons due to injury, Philadelphia's failure has only raised further questions as to whether they should trade the Australian or Embiid amid ongoing doubts over the All-Star pair's compatibility.

Jimmy Butler also came and went, while the Al Horford experiment has proved to be an expensive mistake so far.

As GM Elton Brand tries to get the 76ers back on track, with the likes of Tyronn Lue and Jason Kidd linked to the coaching vacancy, we look at the issues facing the team heading into 2020-21 using STATS data.

 

Keeping Embiid and Simmons fit

One of the main issues for the 76ers has been the health of big man Embiid and guard Simmons – franchise pillars.

While much has been made of Embiid and Simmons' chemistry, with spacing the floor a problem for Brown, their fitness issues mean they have only played in 184 of 345 games since the latter was drafted first by the 76ers in 2016.

When Embiid and Simmons play, the 76ers boast a 119-65 win-loss record. But without one or both, they greatly suffer (67-94), Embiid's physicality in the paint and Simmons' superior defensive skills vital in Philadelphia.

The 76ers average 111.7 points, 107.5 opposition points, 47.4 rebounds and 26.4 assists per game with Embiid and Simmons involved, a clear improvement compared to when one or both miss a game – 106.7 points, 109.4 opposition points, 44.5 rebounds and 25.0 assists.

Philadelphia also have a superior field goal percentage (46.9) when Embiid and Simmons both play, with the 76ers shooting just 45.3 per cent. Opposition numbers also go up in their absence – field goal percentage (44.3 to 46.2) and three-point percentage (34.1 to 35.5).

 

Simmons and his shooting woes

Simmons is an elite defender and creator with unrivalled pace, but his shooting struggles have left him stuck between a star and superstar.

There have been signs of a shooter behind all of his usual brilliance, however Simmons' jump-shot is too few and far between.

Previously compared to LeBron James, Simmons does not shoot threes or free throws well – his career free-throw percentage of 59.3 is the worst in NBA history by a guard with at least 1,000 attempts.

And his career three-point percentage (two-for-24, 8.3) is the lowest among all guards who debuted in the NBA in 2000 or later (minimum 20 attempts).

Simmons, 24, also signed a five-year, $170million max contract prior to the 2019-20 campaign.

 

Embiid not so clutch?

The third pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Embiid has established himself as one of the best big men in the league but he has still been criticised for his lack of consistency and poor fitness at times. Nicknamed 'The Process', the 26-year-old knows there is room for improvement.

Embiid wanted to carry the 76ers in the absence of Simmons and while averaging 30.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in the playoffs – an increase on his regular-season averages of 23.0 points and 11.6 rebounds, which were a dip on his 2018-19 numbers – and he looked worn out.

There could be some concern that he does not play well at the end of close games. In his career – regular season and playoffs – Embiid has had 17 potential game-tying or go-ahead shots in the last 30 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime, and he is just one-for-17.

The only shot he made was a dunk against the Cleveland Cavaliers in November 2019.

The Philadelphia 76ers are not looking to trade Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid following their elimination from the NBA playoffs, general manager Elton Brand said.

Head coach Brett Brown was sacked after the 76ers were swept 4-0 by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the postseason and the team is reportedly looking at further changes to the front office.

However, Brand has no plan to move on from either of the All-Star duo of Simmons and Embiid.

"I'm not looking to trade Ben or Joel, I'm looking to complement them better," said Brand. "They are 24 and 26 years old respectively, you try to make that fit as long as you can.

"They want to be here, they want to be with our organisation, and I see them here for a long, long time."

Simmons sat out the playoffs after suffering a subluxation in the left knee at the NBA bubble in Orlando and Embiid was unable to inspire a deep run that could have seen his team-mate return to the court.

Both players are under contract for at least the next three seasons and Brand plans to discuss with them how they feel the team should look going forward.

Brand acknowledged that 'The Process', the nickname given to the period in which Philadelphia rebuilt by tanking and acquiring draft capital, could now be deemed a failure.

"It didn't produce the results we expected. It's a results-based business and we're trying to right those wrongs and make sure we do better," he said.

"Currently, yes, we failed. But are we going to do everything to position ourselves to win? Yes."

A key factor in the Sixers' path forward will be the appointment of a new head coach, so Brand will not make a hasty decision.

He said: "We're not going to be in a rush because this is a pivotal point for our organisation. We're at a crossroads right now, so this hire is extremely important. There's not going to be a rush.

"All options are open. No one is in the lead, but I look forward to these interviews because there are going to be some talented people out there."

A lack of perimeter shooting has been a persistent issue for the 76ers, while Al Horford failed to gel with Embiid after arriving on a four-year, $109million contract.

Asked if Horford can fit into the line-up, Brand said: "That's for the next coach to make that decision and determination on how the line-ups work.

"Al Horford can fit on an NBA-calibre championship team. Whatever that role is, we're going to have to figure it out. But he can fit."

Joel Embiid is unsure about his future with the Philadelphia 76ers following their swift elimination from the NBA playoffs, though the All-Star reiterated his desire to retire at the franchise.

The 76ers were swept 4-0 by rivals the Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs after Sunday's 110-106 loss in Orlando, Florida.

Philadelphia reached the Conference semi-finals last season, dramatically denied by the buzzer-beating shot of Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard, but the championship hopefuls now find themselves at a crossroads.

There is uncertainty over head coach Brett Brown, while there have been reports Embiid and fellow All-Star Ben Simmons could be traded.

"I don't make the decisions. I'm here in Philly. Whatever happens, happens," said Embiid, who signed a five-year, $148million contract extension in 2017 after being drafted with the third pick three years earlier.

"I've always said that I want to end my career here and if it happens, good. If it doesn't happen, well, you move on and all that stuff."

Dubbed "Trust the Process", the 76ers embarked on a drastic rebuild under former general manager Sam Hinkie as their struggles on the court led to Philadelphia drafting two potential franchise cornerstones in Embiid and Simmons.

They made the Conference semi-finals in 2018 and 2019, but in pursuit of a first championship since 1983, Philadelphia capped out and went all in on Tobias Harris and Al Horford on max contracts as they parted with numerous picks.

The 76ers gave up a lot in their deal to lure Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers and it was the same for Jimmy Butler in November, only for the All-Star to leave at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Horford, meanwhile, has struggled to fit since arriving from the Celtics.

Pressure is on GM Elton Brand and the 26-year-old Embiid – who led the 76ers in Game 4 with 30 points and 10 rebounds – said: "I just feel like, a couple years ago, when we made the playoffs for the first time, we had a bunch of great players that were drafted here or either formed in Philly and we had a bunch of guys especially that were in a great situation.

"And then we, as you know, we decided to trade a lot of it with the picks and stuff for Jimmy, Tobias and we got a bunch of great players in return. Like I said, it just didn't happen. We could never find a rhythm this year.

"It is disappointing. There's a lot of regrets. I felt like the focus was not always there. And we got to do better, we just got to look at ourselves in the mirror and just do better."

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said he has to be more aggressive after his team's 109-101 defeat to the Boston Celtics in game one of the Eastern Conference first-round series.

Turnovers crippled the 76ers as rivals the Celtics made a winning start in the NBA playoffs at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida on Monday.

While Embiid put up 26 points and 16 rebounds in the absence of fellow All-Star Ben Simmons, it was not enough for the 76ers – who recorded 18 turnovers against the Celtics.

Embiid had five turnovers of his own, with the Celtics benefiting by scoring 21 points as a result in the first-round opener.

"Obviously not enough [shots]," Embiid – carrying the load with Simmons sidelined for the remainder of the season – said afterwards. "I've got to be more aggressive.

"Maybe we need to call some more plays but I don't know. That's another thing we've got to fix going into game two."

Championship hopefuls and sixth seeds the 76ers, who are looking to progress beyond the Conference semi-finals for the first time since losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals, face the Celtics in game two on Wednesday.

"I've got to do more. I got one job to do, to carry us," Embiid said. "I'm going to need my team-mates to help but I need to do more.

"I've got to take more shots, I've got to be more aggressive, I've got to help my team-mates."

Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown shared his thoughts on his team's turnovers, adding: "This is the double-edged sword where you have to figure out what line do you want to walk.

"This overplaying the volume of just smashmouth, bully-ball post-ups; if you do it all the time it comes with some level of punishment if you're not careful."

With the regular season over, it's time for business in the Orlando bubble.

The Portland Trail Blazers completed the NBA's playoff bracket with their play-in win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Now, Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks, the LeBron-James led Los Angeles Lakers and Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams vying for supremacy at Walt Disney World Resort.

With the postseason scheduled to start on Monday, we use STATS data to preview the first-round series.

Eastern Conference

Milwaukee Bucks (1) v Orlando Magic (8)

Eyeing their first NBA championship since 1971, the Bucks head into the opening-round series struggling for form.

The Bucks, who went 52-8 from their first 60 games, recorded a 4-9 win-loss ratio from their last 13 fixtures – becoming the first team in NBA history to have more losses in their final 13 regular-season games than they did in the entire season prior to that.

Inside the bubble but in familiar surroundings, the Magic have the chance to snap a playoff drought, despite the odds being stacked against them.

Not since 2010 have the Magic won a playoff series. Orlando swept the Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks en route to the Conference finals, before losing to the Boston Celtics. The Magic have since suffered first-round exits at the hands of the Hawks (2011), Indiana Pacers (2012) and Toronto Raptors (2019).

Toronto Raptors (2) v Brooklyn Nets (7)

Defending champions the Raptors have form on their side in pursuit of back-to-back championships.

Toronto went 27-5 over their last 32 games, easily the best record in the NBA during that period – ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-10), Los Angeles Clippers (20-10), Bucks (20-11) and Celtics (21-13).

Nets star Spencer Dinwiddie has been one of the most clutch players this season, making an NBA-high seven go-ahead baskets in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime.

Dinwiddie's seven for 13 is better than the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (five), Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray of the Nuggets (both four).

Boston Celtics (3) v Philadelphia 76ers (6)

The Celtics renew hostilities with rivals the 76ers, having won the past four series between the two teams – Philadelphia have not claimed a series against Boston in the playoffs since 1982.

Philadelphia's hopes will rest on Joel Embiid in the absence of injured fellow All-Star Ben Simmons, who is the only player in NBA history to average 8.0-plus rebounds and 8.0-plus assists per game for his career.

The 76ers are 35-22 (.614 per cent) with Simmons in the team, while they are just 7-8 (.467 per cent) without the Australian star on the court. Philadelphia also allow more opposition points per game in his absence – 113.6 compared to 107.2.

Indiana Pacers (4) v Miami Heat (5)

All eyes will be on Indiana's T.J. Warren, who averaged 31.0 points per game with a .664 effective field-goal percentage this month following the restart.

Since 1985-86, the players with 30.0-plus points and a .650-plus effective field-goal percentage in a month (minimum five game played) are Charles Barkley (1990), Stephen Curry (2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019), Antetokounmpo (2017 and 2019) and Karl Anthony-Towns (2019).

With Heat pair Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson, Miami are the first NBA team to have two undrafted players averaging 13.0-plus points per game in the same season – minimum 70 per cent of team games played – since the Philadelphia Warriors in 1956-57 (Joe Graboski and Neil Johnston).

 

Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers (1) v Portland Trail Blazers (8)

Making their first postseason appearance since 2013, the Lakers – who have a 74.6 per cent chance of winning this series using Stats Perform's advanced simulation tool – are one of the favourites to go all the way thanks to James and Anthony Davis.

James and Davis have combined well in LA, where the former has supplied 184 assists for the All-Star recruit this season – the most to one player in 2019-20, ahead of Damian Lillard to Hassan Whiteside (132). Three-time champion and four-time MVP James is also the second-oldest player to average 10 assists or more in a season in NBA history, with Steve Nash averaging 10.0-plus assists in each of his final three campaigns.

This will be the second playoff meeting between James and Carmelo Anthony. James and the Heat eliminated Anthony and the New York Knicks in the first round in 2012. Both averaged 27.8 points in the series. James was the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, while Anthony was the third pick. Their matchups date back to high school, when LeBron was at St. Vincent St. Mary's and Carmelo at Oak Hill Academy.

Portland's go-to man Lillard leads the NBA in scoring inside the bubble at 37.6 per game, including the play-in clash. The Trail Blazers star is averaging 46.3 points in his past four games following a career-high 61 against the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month. He has contributed to Portland averaging a league-high 126.0 points per game at Walt Disney World Resort, while the Lakers have only managed 106.4 points per game – the second worst behind the Washington Wizards.

How about most points per game by team-mate duos? Lillard and CJ McCollum (52.2) are second to James Harden and Russell Westbrook (61.5) but ahead of third-placed James and Davis (51.4).

Los Angeles Clippers (2) v Dallas Mavericks (7)

Can Leonard claim consecutive NBA titles after leading the Raptors to their first champion last season? Well it all begins against the Mavericks.

Leonard – the 2019 Finals MVP – averaged a career-high 27.1 points per game this season, while he averaged 30.5 during last year's playoffs. The four-time All-Star has also averaged 31.0 points per game in three games against the Mavericks this term, with the Clippers sweeping the season series.

Led by Luka Doncic, the Mavericks boast the second-highest offensive rating ever – 113.7 – behind last year's Golden State Warriors (113.9). The Clippers have a 111.1 rating, tied with the Trail Blazers for second this season.

Doncic is averaging 30.0 points, 10.1 assists and 9.7 rebounds in the bubble. The reigning Rookie of the Year also has three triple-doubles, including a 20-rebound triple-double.

Denver Nuggets (3) v Utah Jazz (6)

A Jazz team boasting the likes of Joe Ingles and Mitchell are the best three-point shooting team at 38.0 per cent, though Utah went 2-5 in their last seven regular-season games – allowing 110-plus points per game.

Rudy Gobert is also one shy of 250 career double-doubles as the Jazz look to avenge their season sweep at the hands of the Nuggets, though each game was decided by six or fewer points.

The Nuggets made the Conference semi-finals last season, snapping a five-year playoff drought. Jovic will be key for Denver, having averaged 7.0 assists per game for a second successive season – the most by any center in the NBA.

Houston Rockets (4) v Oklahoma City Thunder (5)

It will be a reunion as Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul face their former teams.

The Rockets have advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs in three straight seasons and their hopes will depend on the team's starting five – their starters are averaging 89.1 points per game, the most in the league.

Former Thunder star Harden is also coming off his third consecutive season averaging 30 or more points per game (34.3 in 2019-20). He is the franchise's all-time leader in postseason assists (510) and second in points (2,061) behind Hakeem Olajuwon (3,727).

Westbrook, who arrived from the Thunder in a blockbuster trade at the start of the season, is second all-time for Oklahoma City in playoff points (2,489), behind Kevin Durant's 2,620, third in rebounds (686), first in assists (778) and first in steals (184).

The Thunder, boasting ex-Rockets guard Paul, have not progressed beyond the first round of the postseason since 2016 after blowing a 3-1 lead against the Warriors in the Conference Finals.

Joel Embiid exited the Philadelphia 76ers' game against the Toronto Raptors with a wrist injury, leaving Brett Brown waiting to learn how serious it might prove.

Center Embiid left the game in the first half after being hit on the wrist and did not return, the Sixers going on to succumb to a 125-121 loss on Wednesday.

The three-time All-Star, who was returning after sitting out against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday with an ankle injury, is reportedly not expected to be out long term after X-rays came back negative.

Speaking after the game, 76ers coach Brown said: "I really don't know a lot to share. I do know it was whacked twice. As it relates to what's next, or the evaluation of it, I am sorry, I can't comment on that."

The defeat meant Philadelphia are guaranteed to finish as the number six seed in the Eastern Conference and face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

This season was the first since 2013-14 in which the 76ers had won their season series against the Celtics, who defeated them in the 2018 Eastern Conference semifinals.

Brown is looking forward to the challenge of going up against Boston coach Brad Stevens.

"I've got a lot of respect for Brad. We have had tons of experiences, regular season, playoffs, over the past few years," said Brown.

"I think their team is very unique, in that there is so much firepower at several positions. You know the Philly-Celtics rivalry is historic.

"We are excited and treat this series with tremendous respect. We are excited to compete against them."

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown is optimistic All-Star Joel Embiid will return to the court before the NBA playoffs get underway.

Embiid will sit out Philadelphia's clash against the Phoenix Suns in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday due to an ankle injury.

The three-time All-Star hurt his left ankle in the opening quarter of Sunday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at Walt Disney World Resort.

Philadelphia – sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 42-28 record – conclude their regular-season campaign against defending champions the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday and the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Brown, though, is hopeful Embiid will play prior to the postseason, telling reporters on Monday: "I do expect him to [play before playoffs], that's just one man’s opinion.

"Nobody's doing cartwheels over if something severe, but I do believe it would be good for him to play for the playoffs begin."

Embiid has been averaging 23.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the 76ers this season.

Meanwhile, fellow 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons underwent surgery and is expected to miss the remainder of the campaign.

The 76ers said Simmons had surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee, with the Australian set to begin rehabilitation in Philadelphia immediately.

 

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown played down concerns after Joel Embiid sat out the team's scrimmage due to a calf problem.

Embiid missed Sunday's 102-97 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder as the 76ers stepped up preparations for their NBA return against the Indiana Pacers in Orlando, Florida on August 1.

The three-time All-Star posted 10 points, six rebounds and an assist in just under 13 minutes of Friday's 90-83 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at Walt Disney Resort.

But the 76ers opted not to take any risks after Embiid – whose fitness has often been questioned – began feeling calf tightness against the Grizzlies.

"Not really," Brown replied when asked if there is any frustration about Embiid missing game time with injury. "It's the second game.

"If this had happened three to four games into what we are calling the regular season, [yes]. There is always frustration, selfish frustration, and I know frustration, at times, for Joel. But initially, [we're] just trying to be smart with everything and move on."

"I believe we're just getting out in front of stuff, and being smart with it," Brown said.

Embiid was averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game prior to the coronavirus pandemic forcing the NBA to be suspended in March.

The 76ers (39-26) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, sharing the same record as the fifth-placed Pacers ahead of the league's resumption.

The NBA will restart via a 22-team format at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Brett Brown said the Philadelphia 76ers have been preparing NBA All-Star center Joel Embiid for double-team defence in the playoffs as the team eye a deep postseason run.

The 76ers will renew their season and championship bid against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers on August 1 following the coronavirus-enforced break, which suspended the NBA in March.

Philadelphia have failed to progress beyond the second round of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons – heartbreakingly eliminated by eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals last year following Kawhi Leonard's stunning buzzer-beater.

The 76ers have struggled offensively in the postseason with all eyes on Embiid, but head coach Brown said the franchise have been working on the three-time All-Star's ability to deal with the extra attention.

"He's going to be double-teamed more than he isn't," Brown told reporters following Thursday's practice. "You can book it – he spins baseline, the whole gym is coming, I don't care who we are playing.

"What is happening [on his post-ups] in the playoffs, it's because they go at him more repetitively in a seven-game series. It's that heightened awareness for an NBA First Team All-Star.

"And, so I think this camp one of the things I have been doing is damn near every time he catches it, we're coming [with a double team] ... He's done a really good job passing out of it.

"So whether they come at him, whether he's going to be able to architect a quarterback mentality out of that post up or whether he's just going to play bully ball and go dunk and score, I think that we're moving toward the reads that are coming."

Embiid was averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season prior to the postponement.

The 76ers (39-26) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, sharing the same record as the fifth-placed Pacers ahead of the league's resumption.

The NBA will restart via a 22-team format at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown is thrilled with Ben Simmons in the power forward position as the championship hopefuls look to change things up when the coronavirus-affected NBA season resumes.

The 2019-20 NBA campaign is set to restart via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the season was postponed due to COVID-19 in March.

Philadelphia will return to action against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers on August 1, boosted by the comeback of All-Star Simmons.

Simmons – averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game this season – is back to full fitness after a back injury sidelined him in February, showcasing his ability at power forward, having played as a point guard.

"He's so dynamic," Philadelphia's Brown said on a conference call with reporters on Monday. "Let's just talk about running. There's nobody faster in the NBA. So to always have the ball and dribble it up against five guys ... to do that dilutes some of his potent weapons.

"So, watching him fly up the floor, watching him and Joel [Embiid] play off each other, has been a really good look. I think they've been fantastic together."

Brown, whose 76ers (39-26) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, added: "You take somebody and say, 'Here's the ball.' It's not like Ben came in and we had Chris Paul on the team or Damian Lillard on the team. We were young, and really not that good, so it was my decision, 'You take the ball. We're going to make you the point guard.' It's not like there was an established point guard that he had to bump out.

"[And] how has he responded to that? Like a star. Just a mature, 'Whatever it's going to take to get this team to be the best it can be with the pieces that we have that can be, I don't know, just designed into a smooth thing' ... that is one of the pieces he has to offer. He's been great accepting that, and really killing it in the environment that I just said."

With the 76ers trialling Simmons at power forward, it means Shake Milton is set to replace the Australian as point guard, leaving Al Horford on the bench following his struggles since arriving from the Boston Celtics.

Milton has averaged 9.5 points, 2.2 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game in 2019-20, while he scored a career-high 39 points against the Los Angeles Clippers prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

"He's been amazing," All-Star Joel Embiid said of Milton. "He's been the starting point guard, and I think he has a huge opportunity to help us accomplish what we believe we can.

"He's been doing an amazing job and he's running the team and we're going to need him to knock down shots, which he did, before the league got shut down. He was on a roll so we're going to need him to keep it going. But it's great."

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said he can carry the championship hopefuls as the league prepares to return following the coronavirus-enforced break.

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to restart via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

All eyes will be on three-time All-Star center Embiid when the NBA returns following the coronavirus pandemic.

Philadelphia will recommence against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers, who share identical 39-26 records to be fifth and sixth respectively, on August 1.

Embiid, who had been averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season, insisted the 76ers' offense should go through him.

"I know what I'm capable of, and I know what my team-mates think of me," Embiid said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

"I know I'm capable of carrying the team, so it's all about me being assertive. If I feel like I'm not getting the ball, I just got to talk to them and do what I have to do.

"But at the end of the day, I should never be in a position to complain about getting the ball, just because of who I am.

"I believe I can carry the team, and I believe being able to do that, I just got to take matters into my own hands. And obviously, I need to be in positions where I feel comfortable, and I believe my team-mates are going to help."

The 76ers – 14 games behind the Eastern Conference and NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) – are also set to be boosted by the return of fellow All-Star Ben Simmons.

Simmons has been sidelined since February due to a back injury, while there continues to be doubts over whether the Australian and Embiid can coexist in Philadelphia due to their contrasting styles.

"We're going to need him," Embiid said. "It's a team game. I'm going to do my best to keep helping him and create some space for him, and we all got to do the same thing just to help each other.

"At the end of the day, it's all about winning a championship, and I feel like he has the right mindset, that's what he wants to do. I know one thing about him, he wants to win, and he's going to do what it takes to win. So whatever we're going to need him to do, that's what he has to do."

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown said no one has worked harder than Joel Embiid as he hailed the All-Star ahead of the NBA's return.

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to restart via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

Embiid's fitness has always been a topic of discussion and all eyes will be on the three-time All-Star center when the NBA returns following the coronavirus pandemic.

Philadelphia will recommence against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers, who share identical 39-26 records to be fifth and sixth respectively, on August 1.

And Brown had high praise for Embiid's training and conditioning midweek.

"Let's start with the respect and applause I give him for putting in time. There is nobody on our team that has put in more time than Joel Embiid," Brown told reporters on Wednesday.

"Forget what he has actually done in the gym for a minute, just go to the man hours and consecutive days and the amount of days he has put in over the past few months. I'm proud of him, I respect him. He needed to do it. We understand the impact he can have on our team."

Embiid had been averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season.

"We've got a three-week runway to deliver him to the regular season," Brown said. "I'm looking for Joel to come in in as good of shape as he's been in since I have coached him.

"I think the three weeks we have together is an inverted sort of luxury we haven't had. I'm excited for Jo to get back into this and show what he has been doing the last few months."

The 76ers – 14 games behind the Eastern Conference and NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) – are also set to be boosted by the return of fellow All-Star Ben Simmons.

Simmons has been sidelined since February due to a back injury, but Brown added: "He's good to go. He's put in a tremendous amount of work for me to be able to confidently say that.

"As you search for silver linings with this pandemic and the way things have shaped up, it would be hard-pressed for me to find something more obvious than this: It's enabled Ben to reclaim his health. He's good to go, and we look forward to watching him with what I'm told is effectively 100 per cent health."

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star duo Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons "can fit together", according to former team-mate JJ Redick.

76ers center Embiid and guard Simmons have been the subjects of endless questions about their chemistry, with repeated claims that the pair cannot play together for Philadelphia due to contrasting styles.

Reports have also claimed the 76ers could deal one of the players in pursuit of a title, with big man Embiid apparently seen as the most likely to be moved on should Philadelphia explore a trade.

Redick knows Embiid and Simmons better than most, having spent two seasons playing alongside the pair before joining the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019.

"They are both incredibly intelligent, and I'm always betting on guys that are smart enough to figure things out. And they will," Redick told The Athletic.

"The numbers kinda say that, when they're on the court together, they do pretty good: 2018, pretty good; 2019, pretty good; 2020, still pretty good, but not as good right?

"I don't think they're changing, so maybe the people around them are changing. That, to me, just goes back to the right fit and the right pieces.

"I think that they [Embiid and Simmons] can fit together, for sure."

Redick's time in Philadelphia was successful, his shooting – especially from three-point range – helping the 76ers reach the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season.

Since leaving Wells Fargo Center, Redick has seen 76ers head coach Brett Brown heavily criticised amid doubts over his future after Philadelphia struggled for consistency, particularly on the road, prior to the postponement of the NBA due to coronavirus.

While boasting an NBA-best 29-2 home record, the 76ers were 10-24 away from home to be sixth in the Eastern Conference.

The 35-year-old guard said: "I would love to play for Brett again. It's always easy to blame certain people. I don't think Brett is the problem, if there [even] is a problem.

"He is incredibly thorough, incredibly detailed. The thing that I always appreciated, maybe the most, about Brett is how thoughtful he is. There is a purpose to team meetings. There is a purpose to film sessions. There's a purpose to practice. There's a purpose to walk-through. There's a purpose to your daily schedule.

"Everything is so thought-out and meticulous. It's, I think, one of the main reasons that he's who he is as a coach and has gotten to this level."

Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers have teamed up to donate $1.3million to Penn Medicine for critical support of healthcare workers fighting coronavirus.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, with more than one million confirmed cases and over 58,800 deaths.

Sport has also been brought to a standstill amid the coronavirus pandemic – the NBA among the leagues on hiatus around the world.

76ers All-Star Embiid, along with managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer made a significant contribution to the funding campaign for COVID-19 antibody testing of frontline healthcare workers, identifying those with potential immunity.

"During this pandemic, many doctors and nurses are working like soldiers on the front lines of a war and they need to be provided with as much armour as possible in this battle," Embiid said.

"COVID-19 antibody testing can help Philadelphia health care workers at this critical time, and we need to do everything possible to help those heroes who are putting their lives at risk to help us."

Harris added: "The only way for us to get through this terrible global crisis is to ensure a safe work environment for health care professionals and ultimately find a treatment for COVID-19. We are very proud to partner with the incredible team at Penn Medicine, who are tirelessly working towards this by identifying immunity in our brave doctors and nurses.

"Joel has been a leader in highlighting the urgent need for this kind of testing—David and I thank him for his leadership in this area and are excited to join forces with him. Our medical workers are on the frontlines of this crisis, have been hit hardest by it and need all the help and support we can give them. We have rough days ahead, but with collective action like this, together we will make it through."

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann said: "We are enormously grateful to Joel Embiid, Josh Harris, and David Blitzer for stepping up in a time of great need with forward-thinking philanthropy—helping us to understand COVID-19 through the lens of precision medicine.

"We will take this new and powerful knowledge about how our bodies react to the virus and use it to protect our healthcare heroes, sharing these lessons with the City of Philadelphia and across the world."

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid made his injury comeback against the Detroit Pistons, the NBA franchise announced.

Embiid had been sidelined with a shoulder problem since February 26, however, the 76ers center returned to the court for Wednesday's clash.

The three-time All-Star avoided structural damage after colliding with Ante Zizic in Philadelphia's 108-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last month.

Embiid is averaging 23.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the 76ers this season.

The 76ers (38-26) are sixth in the Eastern Conference as they continue to struggle on the road, with a 10-24 record.

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