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Sixers' Joel Embiid: 'I've been so trash'

Keith Pompey, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

TORONTO -- Joel Embiid made no bones about it.

"I sucked," the 76ers center said after Wednesday night's 113-102 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

The NBA All-Star didn't stop there.

"In fact, the past few games, I've been so trash," Embiid said. "So I got (to) figure that part out if I want to help the team win some games."

The MVP candidate had one of his worst shooting performances of the season Wednesday. He made just 5 of 17 shots (29.4 percent) en route to finishing with 10 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four turnovers and two blocks. He also looked sluggish on the defensive end. The 7-foot-2, 270-pounder was a step slow, was moved off his spot, and had a hard time keeping Raptors reserve center Jonas Valanciunas in front of him.

But Embiid, who's averaging a career-best 34.3 minutes, has really looked out of sorts on the offensive end lately. He has shot a combined 14 for 42 in the Sixers' past three games against the Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies (Sunday) and Washington Wizards (Nov. 30).

However, Embiid still hasn't fully adjusted to playing with four-time All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, who, like the 24-year-old, thrives on attacking the basket. Embiid is shooting 43.1 percent (88 for 204) in Butler's 11 games as a Sixer after he was acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a trade. Embiid was shooting 48 percent (134 for 279) in the 15 games before the trade.

At the start of the season, the Sixers (17-9) wanted Embiid to incorporate more of what they (call) "Bully Ball," getting the ball in the paint and attacking the rim, into his game. That led to more free-throw attempts for him.

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

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The Sixers might need to figure out how to create more scoring opportunities for him down low. But ...

"I got to do a better job," Embiid said. "It's on me. I haven't been efficient and have to make sure I work on my game."

The spacing wasn't as much of an issue in the previous 10 games because the Sixers played mostly inferior teams. In the Raptors (21-5), they played the NBA's top squad.

"We traded, and we're still learning how to play with each other," Embiid said. "I'm finding my spots on the floor, but I haven't been good. I need to do better."

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