Highlight: Embiid's 2OT Game-Winner BLOCKED by Anthony Edwards! 76ers Fall 121-120

Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid had a monster performance in his return on Saturday night, but ferocious defense from Minnesota Timberwolves sophomore Anthony Edwards ultimately proved too much to overcome. 

It was Embiid's first game since November 6, having sat out due to the NBA's Health and Safety Protocols regarding COVID-related concerns.

The all-star center looked out of rhythm to begin the game, as he registered just ten points in the first half. However, he gradually returned to being the dominant two-way force that fans are accustomed to seeing, finishing with 42 points, 14 rebounds, and going 16-21 from the free-throw line. 

For Edwards' part, the young shooting guard and former #1 overall draft pick led all players with 48 minutes played, finishing with 19 points on 8-21 shooting from the field. But clamping down Embiid and earning a block will likely make the misses, including 1-8 from deep, a distant memory.

Just one month ago, he publically called out the rest of his Timberwolves teammates, saying they needed to "lock the f**k in". It's not common to find that kind of brash leadership from such a young player, but that intensity likely played a role in locking down Embiid in last night's game.

Both teams ended the night with a 10-10 record to start the season, with the 76ers and Wolves sitting 4 and 7.5 games back of the top seeds in their respective conferences. 

Every loss for Philadelphia shines another spotlight on the Ben Simmons situation, which may finally be reaching its breaking point. Despite rumors that he would be dealt to the Timberwolves in exchange for D'Angelo Russell, he has remained locked in a stalemate with the team which selected him #1 overall in the 2016 draft. 

The Simmons saga has sparked a relatively new debate in the NBA about how mental health factors into injury claims, with the point guard's agent calling out the team for worsening the player's struggles with mental health. 

Sixers' legend and NBA analyst Charles Barkley, however, criticized the team for "begging" the star player to return and criticized Simmons for flip-flopping positions in order to keep collecting paychecks. 

There may be something to the financial argument, as Ben is reportedly going broke from the prolonged battle with the team, in addition to the lavish lifestyle of the alleged "young socialite".

After helping Embiid and the Sixers finish as the top team in the Eastern Conference last season, his absence might inhibit his team from even reaching the playoffs. For the team to have a chance without Simmons, Embiid will need to combine his high level of playing ability with a consistent level of availability. 

Photo Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports