Last season, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid played the best basketball of his career. Heading into the 2020-2021 season as a three-time All-Star, Embiid earned his fourth-straight nod and even came close to winning the NBA's Most Valuable Player award after a phenomenal showing.
This season, Embiid's shown flashes of last year's performances. Unfortunately, once he started to really get going, he contracted a case of COVID-19. As he fought severe symptoms of the virus, Embiid is currently in the midst of an uphill battle as he works to get better.
However, the last few games have been difficult. Although Embiid checked in for 45 minutes last Saturday and scored a season-high of 42 points, his following two performances were a lot less encouraging.
In the Monday night outing against the Orlando Magic, Embiid drained just 25-percent of his shots for 16 points. Then when the Sixers returned to the floor for their Wednesday night road matchup against the Boston Celtics, he struggled once again and hit on just 17-percent of his shots for 13 points.
After the game, Embiid acknowledged his struggles. While he doesn't want to issue excuses for his back-to-back poor shooting performances, Embiid did admit that the after-effects of COVID and a minor hand injury played a part in his struggles on Wednesday night against the Celtics.
But as Embiid steers clear of the injury report once again heading into Friday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Sixers have to find a way to get the big man going. And on Wednesday, Sixers guard Seth Curry discussed how they could do that.
"Just try to get him easier shots," Curry explained. "Some of the shots were tough. He obviously can make them, but just try to get him easier shots and find ways to get him going. It's kind of a tricky game trying to get to the foul line. Some nights you're not getting those calls; some nights he is. So, us as teammates, just try to attack and make it easy on him when we get the opportunity. We'll go to him, so that's not gonna change. We got to just figure out ways to get him going."
Finding opportunities to get up shots hasn't been too hard for Embiid, but the Sixers' spacing has made it more challenging for him to get easier attempts to help him establish a rhythm. As a strong shooting threat himself, Curry won't have any issues drawing attention away from the star center when the ball is in his hands.
Regardless of Embiid's current struggles, the Sixers won't be making any significant adjustments to feature anybody else on the offense at this time. While Embiid's slump has hurt Philly's offense in the previous two outings, Doc Rivers, Curry, and the rest of the team remain confident he'll snap out of it sooner than later.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.