BOSTON -- What did Joel Embiid have to say about the criticism that Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal offered about his level of play?
The 76ers center accepted the criticism ... and agreed with it.
"I mean that's what they do. Maybe they're right," Embiid said after Thursday's shootaround at TD Garden. "I do think they're right. I need to be more aggressive, just look to impose myself, just look to dominate.
"I think the whole season I haven't done that and you can see the way it's affected my efficiency and my stats, so I guess I need to go back to having fun and just dominate. But I get what they're saying and I think they're right. I gotta make a change."
The two-time All-Star takes averages of 22 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, a career-best 1.0 steals and 1.4 blocks into Thursday night's game against the Celtics. He is shooting a career-low 45.8% overall and 30.0% on 3-pointers.
Last season, Embiid averaged 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, .7 steals and careers bests in assists (3.7) and blocks (1.9). The Cameroonian shot a career-best 48.4% overall, 30% on 3-pointers.
This season, Embiid has focused on maintaining his health and has had to adjust to playing alongside newcomers Al Horford and Josh Richardson in the starting lineup.
Embiid was hampered by tendinitis in his left knee late last season. He missed 14 of the final 24 regular-season games, plus Game 3 of the Sixers' opening-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets. The season before that, he missed time late with a broken bone in his face. As a result, he played injured in the past two postseasons.
"This year, I told myself I want to get there healthy," he said.
The spacing this season has been horrible for the Sixers since they lost sharpshooter JJ Redick in free agency, despite having the NBA's biggest starting lineup.
"The way I'm being guarded this year, every time I touch the ball, heavy double-, triple-team," Embiid said. "So I'm just trying to navigate through it and just be a basketball player, make the right plays.
"If I get double-teamed, my teammates know that I'm going to pass it, so it's about balancing between trying to make something happen for your team and making the right play."
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