After finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists against Myles Turner in last night’s 130-114 victory over the Indiana, Philly’s Joel Embiid was asked about matching up with the Pacer center over the course of his career. His response was typical Embiid.
“I have a lot of respect for him, but I say this respectfully, but that’s a match-up that I’ve dominated since I’ve gotten to the league,” Embiid offered bluntly after limiting Turner to 11 points and three rebounds. “[He’s a] great defender. He leads the league in blocks. He should be up there when it comes to Defensive Player of the Year, and that’s also one of my goals, to be Defensive Player of the Year … you’ve got to take advantage of those match-ups.”
Not that there’s any doubt, but it’s worth surveying history to determine whether or not Embiid’s back-handed compliment/claim is indeed true. And upon further review, he’s probably as accurate as he is this season’s frontrunner for Most Valuable Player.
Although Embiid entered the league in 2014, one season earlier than Turner, the two never faced one another until 2016-17 because of Embiid’s foot injuries sidelining him for two seasons. In 11 career match-ups, Embiid’s Sixers have defeated Turner’s Pacers seven times. Both have started every game, except for one off-the-bench appearance from Turner in November 2017. And over the course of those match-ups, it’s not even close. It’s like asking your homie to pick-up a Baconator on the way home, and they return with a chicken sandwich. In fact, it’s a conversation that doesn’t even require a scan of advanced metrics because the margins are so wide in the simple counting stats.
In those 11 games, Embiid’s averaging 28.0 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game on shooting splits of 51.2 / 19.0 / 83.8 from the field, three, and free throws. Turner? 8.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks on 38.6 / 37.5 / 66.7 shooting splits.
The Greatest Hits include Embiid dropping 40 points and 21 rebounds on 13-of-22 shooting against Turner on December 14, 2018. Turner, whose Pacers somehow won 113-101, finished with eight points and five rebounds. Embiid finished with 33 points and 12 rebounds on over 50 percent shooting, while limiting Turner to six points and five rebounds in a 106-89 victory on March 10, 2019. Embiid put up 32 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and shot 53 percent from the field (as well as a perfect 15-of-15 on free throws) in a 119-116, November 30, 2019 win over Indiana, where he held Turner to just three points (1-for-8 shooting) and three rebounds in 28 minutes. And in the bubble, Embiid torched Turner yet again for 41 points and 21 rebounds while shooting 15-of-23, but the Pacers won 127-121. (Turner came away with nine points and two boards in about 20 minutes of play.)
Additionally, in the 11 games, Turner has never outscored or outrebounded Embiid one time. Not. One. Time.
Again, it isn’t close.