EMBIID SAT OUT WITH BALKY BACK: SIXERS 1-4 WHEN HE DOESN’T PLAY!

By Jerry Wein

Joel Embiid had been listed as questionable yesterday, but Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he was unaware of any issues during the coach’s pregame media session, telling reporters he expected Embiid to play.

But a short time before tip-off, Embiid was ruled out with back tightness.

It’s been an ongoing source of discomfort since he took a hard fall against the Los Angeles Lakers in Philly on Jan. 27 when he was fouled by LeBron James.

Rivers chose to replace Embiid in the starting lineup with Mike Scott, picking him instead of backup Dwight Howard. That decision made Ben Simmons the nominal center in a very small lineup against a Jazz team featuring the league’s best defensive center in Rudy Gobert.

Embiid is in the middle of the best season of his career, putting himself in the middle of the MVP conversation thanks both to his play and that of the Sixers as a whole, who entered Monday with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Sixers are 1-4 when Embiid doesn’t play this season, with the lone win coming in Indiana on Jan.31 and requiring a wild, fourth-quarter comeback to get the Sixers the win.

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