Ivica Zubac is playing the best basketball of his career right now for the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 19 points and 9.4 rebounds in the last five games. However, on Tuesday night, when the Lakers take on the Philadelphia 76ers, he’ll have his toughest matchup yet against Joel Embiid.
Embiid, in just his third full season, is putting up All-Star numbers yet again, averaging 27.2 points and 13.3 rebounds. Embiid is also known for his in-game antics, meaning he’ll be trying to get in Zubac’s head throughout the game.
Because of his skill set, Zubac will have to work his absolute hardest to have a good chance against Embiid, and he knows this. “I have to prepare extra. He’s one of the best big guys in the league,” Zubac said.
“I’ll have Tyson to help me out, and JaVale, with what kind of defense to play, what the best way to play against him is. I’m going to come out ready.”
Specifically when defending Embiid, Zubac went into further detail explaining how Tyson Chandler and JaVale McGee could help him.
“In practice, we always prepare the day before for who we’ve got next,” Zubac explained. “We’ve got Joel Embiid, so we’re going to put the ball in the post in practice and Tyson is going to help me out with how to defend him, what side should I make him go, what are his moves. He’s always there to help me.”
Chandler has become a huge mentor for Zubac and it’s arguably a big part of what has allowed Zubac to succeed. In his three years in the league, McGee and Chandler are the first true centers he’s ever worked with.
Working with Chandler and seeing what has made him a successful center for so many years has allowed Zubac to tap into his own development. He’ll need it tonight as he takes on arguably the NBA’s best center, and hopefully he can maintain his focus amidst the plethora of trade rumors he’s been a part of.
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