Pregame Post-Ups: C's Set to Face Embiid-Less 76ers

Thursday, Nov. 30 - 76ers at Celtics

Pregame – Celtics Set to Face Embiid-Less 76ers

BOSTON – Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid (“load management”) will not play tonight in Boston, but that does not mean this matchup will be a walk in the park for Boston.

Speaking from experience, C’s coach Brad Stevens know an Embiid-less Philadelphia team is still capable of beating his squad. Embiid was absent for two matchups against the Celtics last season, but the 76ers still managed to win one and kept the second one close until the final minute when Boston escaped with a close win.

“They play a little bit differently (without Embiid), obviously, because they post a little but less, but certainly they will still post some,” Stevens said ahead of tip-off. “They just fly; they play with great pace. And that pace breaks down your defense. Then, as a result, they’re able to get their loose balls or their rebounds and make you pay. (Dario) Saric is great on the glass, their wings are great on the glass, and obviously Amir (Johnson) has always been a good rebounder.”

Fittingly, Johnson will get the start in place of Embiid in what will be his first game back in Boston since parting ways with the Celtics over the summer. Having him back at TD Garden brought back fond memories for Stevens.

“He was always positive,” Stevens reflected. “We always say that when Amir got on the plane he had a smile and he made sure he acknowledged everybody and talked to everybody and cheered everybody up regardless of if we won or lost. That stuff goes a long way in an 82-game season; you can tell it as a staff, and you know the players can feel it. And so I’m sure that he’s having the same impact in the Philly locker room.”

Sure enough, 76ers coach Brett Brown confirmed that Johnson, who is averaging 4.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, has already had a great influence on his young team.

“Guys who have a spirit and a personality on a day-to-day basis are priceless in a long NBA season,” said Brown. “He hasn’t disappointed at all. He’s a wonderful teammate, his teammates think the world of him, and I’m lucky to have him in our locker room.”

Tonight, the 76ers will rely on Johnson to be more than just a locker room presence. He’ll be handed the keys to start at center where he will look to fill Embiid’s void to the best of his ability.

- Taylor C. Snow