Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid and James Harden represented the Sixers in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Cleveland. Embiid was named a starter in the 5th honor of his career. He was selected by Team Durant. James Harden received the honor for the 10th time in his career. He was named a reserve, and defaulted to Team LeBron after Durant picked Rudy Gobert with the penultimate selection in the draft. However, Harden is nursing a tight hamstring and did not play. Although, he did attend the weekend’s grand event.

Embiid made sure to assert himself throughout his minutes on the court. Embiid registered more than 30 minutes in the game. In those minutes, he contributed a team-leading 36 points on 20 field goal attempts. In an environment with very little defense, Embiid was empowered to let the threes fly — hitting 5 of 8 attempts — and go to the rim as he pleased. 

When the game tightened up in the fourth quarter, Embiid returned to his usual style of play. He jockeyed for positioning in the post against the likes of Jarrett Allen and played for shots at the cup instead of settling outside. Another custom of Embiid’s game, he got to the line for a trio of free throws in the fourth quarter.

It became quite clear that the victory (or MVP) mattered to Embiid, as he engaged his defensive prowess in the game’s final period. He toggled between drop coverage and trapping against pick-and-rolls. Embiid stepped outside to contest smaller shooters. He toed the line between stopping the driver and protecting the rim.

Embiid even threw a late double-team at a LeBron James fade-away over Zach LaVine. But the shot — one that gave Team LeBron a 163-160 victory and ostensibly solidified Curry’s MVP award — was all net.

Embiid also secured 10 rebounds and dished 4 assists in the game.

The next time you see Joel Embiid, he will be taking the court when the Sixers (35-23) visit the Minnesota Timberwolves (31-28) on Friday. According to Embiid’s own words during an in-game television interview on Sunday, James Harden is expected to make his debut for the team. Tip-off is set for 8 PM EST. You can catch the action on NBC Sports Philadelphia.