Embiid sat out Friday's game to rest but said he was really just frustrated with his poor performance.

By Emily Caron
December 08, 2018

Joel Embiid, who missed his first game of the season on Friday to rest, told reporters after the game that he is frustrated with how he has performed since transitioning to a stretch-five role when Philadelphia acquired All-Star wing Jimmy Butler.

“I haven’t been myself lately,” Embiid said, per Philly.com. “I think it’s mainly because of the way I’ve been used, which is I’m being used as a spacer, I guess, a stretch five, which I’m only shooting [29] percent" from three-point range.

“But it seems like the past couple games, like with the way I play, our setup, [Brown] always has me starting on the perimeter … and it just really frustrates me. My body feels great, and it’s just I haven’t been playing well.”

The Sixers' star center sat out of Friday night's win over the Pistons to rest, coach Brett Brown said. Embiid, 24, is averaging 34.3 minutes per game, four more than during the 2017-18 season. Going into Friday's game, Embiid had tallied 892 minutes this season–the fourth most in the NBA. 

Embiid told reporters that he wasn't tired, he was just frustrated with his poor performance. During Wednesday night's 113–102 loss to the Raptors, Embiid scored 10 points on 5-for-17 shooting.

The seven-footer said he'd rather spend more time in the paint and attacking the rim instead of on the perimeter, but that positioning isn't happening as often with Butler in the lineup.

“We sometimes have to space the floor,” Embiid said Friday. “A lot of time, actually, with the way our plays are set up, I tend to spend a lot of time on the perimeter. So it’s an adjustment.”

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Since the Butler trade in November, Embiid is shooting 43.1 percent and averaging 23.8 points per game in his 11 games. He was shooting 48 percent and averaging 28.2 points per game before the trade. In his past three games, he shot 14-for-42 from the field, including 1-for-9 from 3-point range.

Embiid is also going to the free-throw line less as a result of spending less time in the paint and near the rim. 

Brown said that the Sixers do need to do a better job of spacing but does not see Embiid's struggles as a reflection of adding Butler to the mix.

“I don’t want to connect those dots,” Brown said Friday night. “But I think in general we all have to do better at creating space for Joel.”

He added: “I do not see the connection of Jimmy having much to do with spacing,” Brown said. “In fact, I think it completely enhances the possibility to have better spacing.”

The Sixers improved to 18–9 with Friday's 117–111 win over the Pistons, sliding into second place in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia returns to action against the Pistons again on Monday, Dec. 10. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.

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