This moment has been four seasons in the making since the 76ers selected Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 draft after he played 28 games at Kansas and had his lone season cut short before the NCAA Tournament due to a back injury.
Embiid played 31 games as a rookie last season and has participated in 38 this season for Philadelphia (25-24), which deliberately held him out of games on back-to-back nights to make sure he would stay injury free.
Embiid, who is averaging 23.6 points and 11.0 rebounds, was finally been cleared to play in back-to-back games prior to Philadelphia’s 103-97 win over Miami on Friday, a win that was far more entertaining than it needed to be as the 76ers squandered nearly all of a 28-point fourth-quarter lead.
Indiana (29-24) were denied a fourth straight victory Friday night in a 133-126 loss at Charlotte. Victor Oladipo scored 35 points but was upstaged by Hornets guard Kemba Walker, who had 41 and nine assists as his name continues to be bandied about in trade rumors to multiple destinations, including the Pacers.
The loss overshadowed another solid shooting effort by Indiana, who topped 50 percent for the fourth straight game and have shot 47.3 percent or better in their last six outings while averaging 112.3 points.
The Pacers have won five straight at home, averaging 107.4 points while shooting 58.6 percent inside the arc and 52.6 percent overall.