Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid’s comeback tour lasted one stop

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After a two-week absence, Joel Embiid’s return to the court was overshadowed in the Philadelphia 76ers’ final game for the foreseeable future.

The Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t have asked for a better homecoming game after a brutal West Coast road trip marred by disappointment.

Facing off against the third-worst team in the Eastern Conference after four days off – a team that traded away their franchise player for a second-round pick not one month prior – Brett Brown‘s squad looked primed to pull off another home court win in front of the best home-court advantage in the league – especially with Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson returning to the starting five.

And *spoiler alert* the Sixers did win, easily, but does it really even matter?

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As fans cautiously peppered a half-ish filled Wells Fargo Center and the Sixers took to pregame warmups, an air of unease settled over the arena that never quite dissipated.

Fielding a new-look starting five for the umpteenth time this season, Sixers fans the world over finally got a chance to see what newly empowered Shake Milton paired up with Joel Embiid looks like, and for the most part the results were encouraging.

After suffering a sprained shoulder against the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 26th, Embiid turned in a classic Joel Embiid game – racking up 30 points and 14 boards in 27 minutes of action. Sure, he did so against the less than formidable duo of Thon Maker and ex-Sixer Christian Wood, but after a two-week absence, it’s refreshing to remember just how impactful Embiid’s mere presence can be on an opposing team’s game plan.

Fun fact(s), Wood was the final player Sam Hinkie signed as the Sixers GM and was ultimately waived to make room for Elton Brand the following season. Small world.

From Mike Scott slam dunks, to a stellar shooting showcase from still-Sixers’ sixthman Furkan Korkmaz, the team’s Wednesday showcase had a lot to be encouraged about, even if they once again played down to lesser opponents, but at this point does it really even matter?

Not hours after the game came to an end, Adam Silver made it official via the most unpleasant of all Woj Bombs: The NBA season has been suspended for the foreseeable future.

No games, no practices, no timetables, no nothing. Once players tested positive for the Coronavirus, playing sports in a massive arena became untenable regardless of the number of fans in attendance.

While this recess could allow extra time for players like Ben Simmons to get back to full strength, it’s not like the players are going to spend months in the gym working out.  And frankly, they shouldn’t be expected to. Some things are bigger than basketball – bigger than sports really – and a massive, international pandemic falls into that category.

Next. What Kenny Atkinson’s firing says about Brett Brown. dark

So, if this is the last time we see the Philadelphia 76ers play meaningful live basketball for the foreseeable future, at least they went out on top with a vintage performance by Joel Embiid. Fortunately, fans in Philly are used to Trusting the Process.