Embiid won't feel like NBA player until he's cleared for back-to-backs

by
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

The Philadelphia 76ers play their first set of back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday night, with center Joel Embiid not expecting to be in the lineup for Saturday's rendezvous with the Toronto Raptors.

Embiid is hopeful the team will allow him to play games on consecutive days at some point this season. Until he can, though, the 23-year-old will feel like he's missing out on a part of the NBA experience.

"I just want to feel like an NBA player," Embiid said Friday. "I feel like I'm not an NBA player because I can't play back-to-back."

The 7-footer has been open with his disapproval over the minutes restriction he continues to have saddled on him, as he believes he's healthy enough to handle a larger role.

76ers head coach Brett Brown said Monday that he's going to try to keep Embiid's minutes somewhere in the teens. In the season-opening loss to the Washington Wizards, however, Embiid played 27 minutes, scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Considering he's never suited up for both games of a back-to-back, Embiid doesn't know for sure whether his body could even handle it.

"I think I do," he said. "But in the NBA, I never played back-to-back. I can't really say."

Embiid made 31 appearances during the 2016-17 campaign, undergoing surgery in March to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. This came after sitting out the first two seasons of his career after going third overall to Philly in the 2014 draft, because of multiple surgeries on his foot.

His new five-year, $148-million contract extension includes a number of provisions that protect the 76ers financially should Embiid injure any area on his body that's proven to be problematic.