Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is dominating this season:
Philadelphia’s all-star center Joel Embiid is all business this season. Embiid is averaging nearly 37 points in his last three games. As fellow Lake Show Life writer Ron Agers likes to say, Embiid is giving everybody business cards in the paint.
This exhibition of dominance against the lowly Detroit Pistons reminded the (virtual) fans of what could have been if Darko Milicic had been this good.
Joel Embiid is an otherworldly talent. It was a matter of getting him in shape and keeping him focused. So far, new Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers has kept Embiid motivated.
Speaking of motivation, Marc Gasol needs to get that proverbial eye of the tiger back like Embiid has now. Maybe he can look back two seasons ago.
Why Joel Embiid is a problem for the Los Angeles Lakers:
Embiid may not resume his absolute peak form as he is returning from a one-game absence due to a back injury, but he is locked in this season. Very few players in the NBA have the size and wherewithal to stop a truly dominant big man like Embiid.
The Lakers have one of those players in Marc Gasol. If Gasol wants to rewrite his Lakers story, it starts with putting the clamps on Embiid on defense. When Gasol was on the Toronto Raptors, he had an epic battle with Embiid in the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Kawhi Leonard’s shot may have won the series for Toronto, but Gasol’s defense on Embiid kept them in the series. Embiid only averaged 17.5 points per game in that series. If we expand this to all their head-to-head matchups, Embiid has only averaged 13.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game when facing Gasol.
Marc Gasol just knows how to guard Joel Embiid. Moreover, nobody else on the Lakers can defend Embiid. Montrezl Harrell and Markeiff Morris are too short. Anthony Davis is long enough but gives up at least 25 pounds (look for AD to guard Philadelphia point forward Ben Simmons instead).
Ironically enough, Dwight Howard would have been the best solution to guard Embiid last season; he is now Embiid’s backup in Philadelphia.
Why Marc Gasol is the only solution for the Los Angeles Lakers vs Joel Embiid:
Marc Gasol is simply a bad matchup for Joel Embiid. Gasol has the size and strength to prevent Embiid from dominating the paint. He has the defensive savvy to not go for Embiid’s clever pump fakes and up-and-under post moves. Given Gasol’s game was never reliant on athleticism, he should still be able to guard Embiid even if he has lost a step or two.
Or will he?
Joel Embiid is shooting over 40% from three-point range this season. Embiid did not have this shot down cold when Gasol was in Toronto. If Gasol is a step slow in closing out to Embiid in transition, then this play is open all night long.
Good luck stopping the Embiid-Simmons duo now. Imagine if Ben Simmons can ever shoot the ball outside of the paint. Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers may get an honorary medical degree if Simmons can knock down two three-pointers in a game.
Will Marc Gasol stop Joel Embiid?
Yes. Marc Gasol will grit and grind his way to neutralizing Joel Embiid. Even if Gasol only plays 15 minutes against Philadelphia, he will get his money’s worth. The Lakers need him to contain Embiid in those minutes.
If so, the Lakers will be favored to win yet again.