Sixers star Joel Embiid discusses defending Pistons center Andre Drummond. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Camden, N.J. — Sixers center Joel Embiid is no stranger to making waves — on social media and in interviews.
He added another gem to his voluminous collection of soundbytes on Saturday morning ahead of the evening matchup against the Detroit Pistons and center Andre Drummond.
Asked about Drummond’s versatile role in the Pistons’ offense and the difficulty in guarding Drummond, Embiid let loose.
“No disrespect, but he can’t shoot, so I just have to worry about the defensive coverages that we have as a team,” Embiid said at the Sixers practice facility. “They run a lot of down-screens and back-side action and he’s always the roller, so he gets a lot of lobs.
“As a team, we have to make sure that doesn’t happen — and close out on shooters too.”
It’s the latest volley between the two best big men in the Eastern Conference, who are no strangers to making themselves be known on social media.
Embiid and Drummond had a verbal back-and-forth during their first meeting this season, on Oct. 23 at Little Caesars Arena. The Sixers won that matchup, 97-86, with Embiid posting 30 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes.
After the game, Embiid said that Drummond’s trash talk during the game fueled him.
On Saturday, Embiid started his comments by taking the high road and making the rematch more about the teams than the players. But, when he was asked about Drummond’s assertion that the October meeting was their first ever, Embiid begged to differ, noting a preseason matchup last season.
In that game, Embiid had 15 points, five rebounds and seven turnovers in 20 minutes; Drummond posted 10 points and 13 rebounds in 27 minutes in a 97-76 Pistons win — but that was preseason Drummond, in response to Embiid’s comments after this year’s meeting, posted “See you Dec. 2” on Twitter.
Well, the time is now.
Embiid said the fact that Drummond is paying attention to him online means that they have an advantage already.
“That means we already have them mentally. For them to go on social media and saying something, we’ve already got them,” Embiid said. “I’m excited about the matchup, but it’s about Sixers against Pistons.”
With two teams that look to be the biggest surprises in the Eastern Conference through the first quarter of the season, Saturday’s matchup could be more spectacle than actual display of elite-level basketball.
Even with a pair of talented big men, there’s some promise, but Embiid doesn’t see much sizzle in the matchup with Drummond.
“Nothing, really,” he said. “I’m just going to go out there and do what I do best: be the best defensive player in the league and help the team as far as scoring and being a playmaker too.
“Saturday night, it’s going to be a lot of fans, Detroit is a pretty good team and right now they’ve been doing good since we last played them. There’s a lot to be excited about.”