Remaining patient, Okafor will play Saturday
Has not played in last 3 games
With the Sixers’ center rotation forever spinning, Jahlil Okafor will practice two things: Basketball and patience.
The Sixers have won their last two games and four of their last five, mostly with Okafor on the bench behind Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. But with back-toback games set for the weekend, Okafor will be back in the rotation Saturday night in Washington.
“My confidence will never waver,” the second-year center said after practice Thursday. “I have been doing this my entire life. And I have been successful doing this as well. Knowing who I am, I will keep working hard and do-
ing as much as I can to stay ready.”
Okafor has not played in the last three games, including a 98-97 victory Wednesday over the Knicks and a 105-95 triumph Sunday in Brooklyn.
Though Embiid did not practice Thursday while resting a sprained ankle, he is “probable” for a Friday visit from the Charlotte Hornets, the Sixers said. The Sixers will continue their policy of not allowing Embiid to play on consecutive days. For that, Brett Brown has announced that Okafor will play against the Wizards.
“Jahlil has taken a little bit of a hit, and that disturbs me,” Brown said. “We have to find ways to not forget that part of what we do,
what I do. You are going to go to Washington and it’s going to be easy because Joel Embiid is not going to play and Jahlil is going to be back on stage. So keeping him alive, keeping his head alive, there is no book that tells you how to orchestrate that. But it’s real.”
Okafor practiced Thursday and continues to avoid creating a stir.
“Obviously I want to be on the court when the team’s doing well,” he said. “Some guys are playing well and I am happy for them. So I am waiting for my time and supporting the team as best as I can.”
••• A day after sinking the last-second shot to defeat the Knicks, T.J. McConnell was trying Thursday to maintain perspective.
“I’ve forgotten about it,” the point guard said. “It’s time to move on and get ready for Charlotte. Obviously, I will remember that shot for the rest of my life. But it’s about moving on. Let’s focus on Charlotte coming in tomorrow.”
••• NOTES >> Gerald Henderson had the day off for loadmanagement purposes not connected to his hip troubles, according to the Sixers. He is probable for Friday against Charlotte. … The Sixers’ next four games are against teams in position to make the playoffs, Charlotte Friday at 7, at Washington Saturday, at Milwaukee and home against Toronto Jan. 18. Brown: “I think it’s fantastic. We welcome this. We feel like we are playing good basketball. We are going to more clearly see things that we need to get better at against the elite teams in the East. It’s a compass. It’s a reminder of what we will need to do to get where we want to go.”
Sixers center Jahlil Okafor has been out of the rotation of late, but will have to play Saturday in Washington as Joel Embiid takes the night off.