Joel Embiid back for 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers were cruising in their opening round playoff series against the Washington Wizards when Joel Embiid went down in game four. He suffered a meniscus tear in his right knee and missed the remainder of the series. Fortunately for 76ers fans, Philadelphia was able to get past Washington even without their biggest superstar.
Embiid made his return to the court on Sunday though, playing for the first time in six days as Philadelphia kicked off the second round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Wells Fargo Center. Despite having the 27-year-old back in the starting lineup, the 76ers fell short in game one, losing to the Hawks 128-124.
While Embiid played well by leading all scorers with 39 points and adding nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks, he made it clear to reporters following the contest that he is far from 100%.
“Playing on a torn meniscus is not easy,” Embiid said, via ESPN. “All I got to do is keep managing it. Do my best. Get as much treatment as I can. Try to manage it to make sure that it doesn’t swell up too much. Obviously, the pain is going to be there. That’s normal.
“But it’s all about managing it, doing whatever it takes to win. Because my goal is to win the championship. I’m going to put my body on the line to make sure that happens. I’m going to give everything I got.”
Atlanta got off to a hot start, leading the game by 15 points after the opening quarter. However, Philadelphia managed to get back into the game in the fourth quarter but it was too little too late. Embiid did end up playing more than 39 minutes in game one of the series, but it was not necessarily something his coach had been planning on or is happy about.
“I didn’t like him in, even though we had to have him in,” 76ers’ head coach Doc Rivers said, via ESPN. “But when we were trapping and running around in that last three minutes and obviously we made a run, I did not like him on the floor at that point because I didn’t want him doing those things, if you want to be honest. That’s why we told him to just stand back. Because those are the ones that you get injured on.”
However, the superstar made it known he was eager to play and willing to adjust to any style needed to get the job done.
“I can adjust to any style of play. We just played Washington that played fast. This team, they were physical. They play fast. I can adjust to it. It’s the playoffs,” he said. “You can’t worry about how many minutes someone is supposed to play or is going to play. You got to go with your best guys.”
Embiid knows how important it is for his team to get past Atlanta after finishing the regular season atop the Eastern Conference. Embiid has never gotten past the second round and could send a real message to the rest of the league if he helps the 76ers reach the Eastern Conference finals.
“As long as I’m OK to be out there and I’m going to give my best and I’m going to keep pushing until I can’t,” Embiid said. “But as long as I’m out there, I’m going to play hard. I’m going to dive for loose balls. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win.”