Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid proves his worth without playing a minute

The Philadelphia 76ers look lost without Joel Embiid.

Boy, oh boy, what an ugly, ugly Philadelphia 76ers game.

On a day already marred by the untimely death of the Philadelphia Eagles‘ playoff hopes – which you can read about here if you are so inclined – Sixers fans had to suffer through the first game of the season without Joel Embiid, and needless to say, it went really, really bad.

Granted, it’s never a particularly good time to have Embiid sitting on the sidelines with back tightness, but one would at least think the Sixers would be able to breeze past a rebuilding Cavs squad after beating the New York Knicks by a clean Andrew Jackson Harriet Tubman one night prior.

Nope. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

In a game seemingly tailor-made for Ben Simmons to go off – especially with Doc Rivers debuting the Simmons-at-center Death Lineup Cleveland knows all too well from their times facing off against Draymond Green and the Warriors – the Sixers lost every quarter, lost any semblance of an offensive identity, and ultimately lost the game 94-118 – marking the first time in the Rivers-era where the team failed to pass the 100 point mark.

But do you know who looked really good? I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t Dwight Howard, who finished out the game with nine points and three rebounds versus four personal fouls. No, the best player on the Sixers had to be ‘The Process’ himself, Joel Embiid.

I know, cute, right? If everyone plays bad, the only person who doesn’t look bad has to be the player who didn’t play by process of elimination alone, right? Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.

All joking aside, if we learned anything in the Sixers’ loss to the Cavaliers, it’s that this team remains Joel Embiid’s team even if some fans think the team would be better off shipping him off to Houston for James Harden.

Without Embiid, the Sixers didn’t have a reliable shot clock closer, volume scorer, or player to turn to when they needed to bully out a quick two either in the paint or at the line. They instead had to rely on Simmons’ transition offense, Tobias Harris‘ Thunder-era Carmelo Anthony impressions, and a collection of bench scorers who racked up 42 points in 126 collective minutes of action.

While Harris inarguably had his best statistical game of the season – scoring 16 points, nine rebounds, and three steals on 4-6 from beyond the arc – that clearly wasn’t enough to get Philly over the hump. Heck, it wasn’t even enough to get into the 20 point range against a Cavs frontcourt that only got nine minutes out of GQ favorite Kevin Love.

Between you and me, I’m genuinely bummed that we didn’t get to see Embiid go tête-à-tête against his favorite foe, Andre Drummond, but hey, there’s always February 27th – a game the Sixers currently have an 86.9 percent chance of winning according to ESPN.

When the Philadelphia 76ers signed Dwight Howard away from the Los Angeles Lakers, it felt like an absolute godsend. After suffering through the absolute torture known as Al Horford playing basketball as the team’s alternative center (sarcasm), surely Howard, an eight-time All-Star, would be able to seamlessly run the show when Embiid had to take a game off with back-to-back-soreness. Maybe that statement can still be true, but it surely wasn’t in Game 3. No, for better or worse, this is still Joel Embiid’s team and will continue to be until the Sixers can land a viable offensive 1b to pair up with the do-it-all big man. Oh well, on to the next one.