Jon Stewart made the decision to tread on the rarely successful land of cheesesteak jokes on Thursday night's edition of The Daily Show. It was in a segment about Hot Pockets being recalled and referenced a croissant cheesesteak offered by the world's leading meat pocket maker. The croissant angle led him to the obvious Geno's Steaks xenophobia / Freedom Fries connection and it actually worked out okay. Until he tried to do a Philly accent, which was basically his generic Italian guy from any city on the East Coast. At least he didn't take any jabs at the Phanatic this time.
CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have been challenged by playing without Joel Embiid in one of two games in a back-to-back series all season. Now they will have to do it in at least the next two straight games.
“We’re going to be without him tomorrow (against the Clippers) and in Milwaukee and we’ll go from there,” Brett Brown said after practice Monday.
Embiid, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, suffered a left knee contusion in Friday’s win over the Trail Blazers. He did not travel with the team to Atlanta on Saturday for the back-to-back series.
Brown called the decision “precautionary.” Embiid did not practice on Monday but took some light shots after. He was pre-scheduled to sit out on Wednesday against the Bucks in accordance with his limitations for consecutive games.
Embiid was putting up shots after Sixers practice. pic.twitter.com/38nUJ5WZAJ— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoCSN) January 23, 2017
The standout rookie leaves a glaring hole on the court when he misses games. The Sixers are 2-10 when he does not play. For all the ways Embiid dominates at the basket (22.4 points over the last 10 games), there is an obvious difference on the defensive end without him.
“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”
This is a time when the Sixers’ logjam at the five-spot actually helps them. Brown still has three true centers to turn to, in addition to power forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric, whom he could slide into the position if they go small. Brown sees a silver lining for his bigs in the uphill battle of playing without Embiid.
“It definitely hurts the team, how can we spin it any other way?” Brown said. “But like anything, you’re going to now look at Nerlens and Jahlil. This is fantastic for those two. It could prove, based on some things, Richaun (Holmes) sees daylight a little bit.
“There aren’t many teams, I would suspect, that have the ability to roll out three young guys when somebody like Joel goes down and look forward to watching them develop more, look forward to giving them the opportunity to play NBA minutes.”
Okafor has been receiving the start when Embiid is out. (He has been out of the rotation when Embiid does play.) Okafor, though, is dealing with right knee soreness he experienced on Saturday. The Sixers kept an eye on him Monday and held him out of 5-on-5 drills in practice. Okafor said the team was being cautious, and he wanted to rest his knee given the number of games coming up. He is listed as probable against the Clippers.
“It was bothering me a little bit in the warmup lines, I started to feel it. When I got going it started feeling really good, then when I sat out for an extended period it got kind of (got) sore on me again,” Okafor explained. “Today they were trying to make sure I could get back to being a hundred percent because they knew that my knee was bothering me. They haven’t really told me what the plan was for tomorrow. Today was really focused on getting me back to being healthy.”
The Clippers are shorthanded as well. Blake Griffin has been sidelined since Dec. 18 because of a right knee procedure and Chris Paul had surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left thumb. Griffin could make his return against the Sixers.
Embiid's Player of the Week honor is rare for a rookie. He's only the third Sixers rookie ever to win it, joining Allen Iverson and Michael Carter-Williams.
The last Sixer before Embiid to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week was Thaddeus Young in January 2014.
The Sixers won all three games Embiid played last week. He averaged 22.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks.
Jason Kelce, one of the Eagles who could potentially be a salary cap casualty next season after an up-and-down year, is headed to the Pro Bowl.
Kelce and Darren Sproles were each named to the Pro Bowl Monday as replacements for center Alex Mack and running back Devonta Freeman, who will be in the Super Bowl for the Falcons.
Kelce didn't miss a snap this season for the Eagles and hasn't missed one in 39 straight games dating back to Week 10 of the 2014 season.
Despite the Pro Bowl nod, Kelce gave an honest, harsh assessment of his season in November.
"I think that I quite frankly need to do a better job. That's what it comes down to," he said. "I love playing in this city, I love playing in this organization, and if I'm going to keep doing that, I have to do a better job."
Sproles, meanwhile, has now made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons with the Eagles, all of them after his 30th birthday. Sproles had 438 rushing yards, 427 receiving yards, four TDs and a punt return average of 13.2 yards this season. His 94 carries were a career high.
Kelce and Sproles join Jason Peters and Fletcher Cox, giving the Eagles four Pro Bowlers after a 7-9 season.