|Surging Sixers take aim at defending champs|
The Golden State Warriors will be coming off a rare loss when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
Philadelphia center Joel Embiid is coming off a pretty rare game himself.
Embiid scored a career-high 46 points as the Sixers wrapped up a five-game road trip with a 115-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. He added 15 rebounds and career highs of seven assists and seven blocked shots, becoming the first NBA player to reach those last three totals while scoring at least 45 points since the league began counting blocks in 1973.
Embiid also became the first player with at least 40 points, seven assists and seven blocks since Sixers legend Julius Erving did so against the Detroit Pistons in 1982, and the first Sixer to score 40 points or more since Allen Iverson in 2006.
"I wish I could have had a quadruple-double with blocks -- shout out, (Miami Heat center) Hassan Whiteside," Embiid told Philly.com after Wednesday's game. "But, like I said, I just went out there and played basketball and played the right way.
"I wasn't forcing nothing -- playing with my teammates, passing the ball."
Embiid was limited to 31 games last season because of a knee injury, and missed the entire preseason as well. He told NBC Sports Philadelphia he is currently at about "69 percent."
Rookie guard/forward Ben Simmons fell one rebound short of his third triple-double against the Lakers, collecting 18 points, 10 assists and nine boards. He also came up with five steals and turned the ball over just once as Philadelphia won its second straight to finish its trip 3-2.
Overall, the Sixers are 8-6 -- their best record at this point in a season since they opened 2012-13 with the same mark. The game against the Warriors opens a season-long six-game homestand for Philadelphia.
Golden State, which beat the Sixers 135-114 last Saturday in Oakland, saw a seven-game winning streak end with Thursday's 92-88 loss in Boston. Kyrie Irving put the Celtics ahead to stay when he sank two free throws with 14 seconds left, capping a rally from a 17-point third-quarter deficit.
Boston limited the defending world champions, now 11-4, to a season-low point total and 40.2-percent shooting.
Afterward, a Boston reporter suggested to Warriors star Stephen Curry that the Celtics, now 14-2 after winning their 14th straight, would meet Golden State in the Finals.
"Very, very likely," Curry said, according to the Bay Area News Group. "They're playing the best today in the East. They have to beat Cleveland, who has done it three years in a row. We'll see. I heard the weather is great here in June, so we'll see."
Curry, who missed Golden State's previous game with a bruised thigh, managed a season-low nine points on 3-of-14 shooting, including 2-of-9 3-point accuracy.
"I got all the shots I wanted," he said, according to Medina. "They just didn't go down."
The Sixers continue to be without guard Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in last summer's draft. He missed the last 10 games with a shoulder injury.