Joel Embiid Expected to Play Power Forward With Jahlil Okafor at Center Vs. Raptors

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Owen McCue | CSNPhilly.com Contributor

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers will be short a big without Nerlens Noel on Wednesday night, but they still have to two bigs to pair against the Raptors.

Joel Embiid expects to play alongside Jahlil Okafor on Wednesday. When he does, it will be as the power forward.

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Embiid will remain at center when playing with power forwards Ersan Ilyasova or Dario Saric, who also will be seeing time at small forward. 

“Tonight I’m guarding the four, so I think it depends on the matchups,” Embiid said after shootaround. “Some days I’m going to be guarding the five, but tonight I’m guarding the four.”

Brett Brown has emphasized his decision to play two bigs will be based on the opponents. He has paired Embiid and Okafor twice against the Magic, who feature Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic (see story)

Embiid sees the Raptors, who are projected to start Pascal Siakam at power forward and Jonas Valanciunas at center, as a good opportunity to move around the floor. The Sixers will need help defense honing in on dangerous backcourt of DeMar DeRozan (27.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game) and Kyle Lowry (21.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists per game). 

“I think no disrespect to Siakim, but he’s not as good as a shooter,” Embiid said. “That sets me kind of free to like just play all over the place, helping my teammates, helping off DeRozan, Valanciunas, so it just kind of gives me free reign to just play.”

The Raptors beat the Sixers, 122-95, in their first meeting of the season on Nov. 28. Embiid did not play, as it was the second game of a back-to-back. 

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