Joel Embiid's dominance key to 76ers season turnaround

Joel Embiid is back! 

In his just his fifth game back, after missing nine following a bout with COVID-19, the Cameronian big man is showing signs of a dominant level of play – one that made him an MVP finalist during the 2020-21 season. 

On Monday night against the Hornets, a team that was fresh off a big win in Atlanta, Embiid took over down the stretch and willed the team to a 127-124 overtime victory. 

Erupting for a season-high 43 points, to go with 15 rebounds and seven assists, he scored or assisted on 15 of the team’s final 16 points and nearly outscored the Hornets by himself in that span (13-14).

https://t.co/etMSsOXTkr pic.twitter.com/rWu8JAcJpg

— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 7, 2021

This is his second 40-point game of the season, both coming since his return on Nov. 27. The victory comes fresh off the heels of the team’s win a few days earlier in Atlanta. 

MORE: Embiid leads 76ers to statement win vs. Hawks

It’s the first time, the 76ers have won consecutive games since Nov. 6, courtesy of their 3-9 record in 12 games through the latter half of November. A huge reason for that slump was the availability of the team’s two stars in Embiid and Tobias Harris. 

Today’s contest was just their fourth game playing together since Oct. 30 as the 6-foot-8 wing also had his own battle with COVID-19 in November. With both of them back, the team is nearly back to full strength, barring of course, the prolonged absence of Aussie Ben Simmons. 

“He’s dominant,” Harris said of Embiid after the win in Charlotte. “The way that he impacts the game offensively, he’s a shotmaker. He’s the guy that we go to when we need a bucket and he delivers for us.”

Joel Embiid tonight:

43 PTS

15 REB

7 AST

15-20 FG

12-14 FT

It’s his fourth 40/15/5 game of his career, the most in Sixers franchise history by anyone not named Wilt Chamberlain. pic.twitter.com/Cy2524tjGw

— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 7, 2021

Philadelphia is now 3-2 since Embiid’s return with their two losses coming by a combined two points.

With nearly all of their team healthy, at least of those who were available on opening night and sparked an 8-2 start to the season, the 76ers can begin working on a turnaround, however, they have one of the toughest schedules in the league for December.

Going into December, the 76ers have the Eastern Conference’s second-toughest schedule of the month and third-toughest overall based on the opponent’s winning percentage, per NBA.com’s John Schuhmann.

Here’s a look at their upcoming schedule:

76ers upcoming schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)
Dec. 8 at Hornets 7:00 p.m
Dec. 9 vs. Jazz 7:00 p.m
Dec. 11 vs. Warriors 8:30 p.m
Dec. 13 at Grizzlies 8:00 p.m
Dec. 15 vs. Heat 7:00 p.m
Dec. 16 at Nets 7:30 p.m

Currently sitting at seventh in the East with a 13-11 record, only time will tell how the 76ers will fare in the games coming ahead. 

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