A late January matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers is still a topic of discussion nearly a month later. As the video of LeBron James giving Joel Embiid a bit of a shove in mid-air still makes its rounds on social media, the Sixers' big man admits the hard fall on the floor still takes a toll on him at times.
"That's when it started," Embiid said in regards to his back issues on Wednesday night after the Sixers defeated the Houston Rockets at home.
Although Embiid has powered through the back tightness more often than not, the All-Star center has still missed two of the team's last nine games for the same issue. And during Wednesday night's game, Embiid looked sluggish at times and constantly had to stretch out his back.
After the matchup, both Embiid and Sixers head coach Doc Rivers mentioned that the plan was to have the veteran center play a few minutes in the second half and then have him sit for the remainder of the game to rest his back.
As the Sixers struggled to maintain their significant lead over Houston, though, the plans changed. "I wanted to give it a shot for five more minutes [in the second half]," Embiid said. "Obviously, things changed, and I had to adjust to it. The whole game, it was pretty tight, but I'll be fine."
Despite his back tightness still being a factor weeks after the hard fall, Embiid made it known that he's not dealing with anything too significant. "It's not alarming," Embiid said. "You know, it's just tightness. Some days it's tighter than usual -- some days, it's not. In Utah, or even after the Suns game, it got more tighter than usual, and today, especially when we started the game, it was tighter than usual."
While getting a dose of "old school load management," as Doc Rivers would call it, would've been ideal for Embiid, the Sixers needed their big man to help them close out the game with a victory as Houston teased a comeback.
Embiid played in a total of 36 minutes on Wednesday night. While on the court, he went 10-for-21 from the field, accounting for 31 points. Neither Embiid nor Rivers could say for sure whether the three-time All-Star was going to play on Friday or not, but it sounds like Embiid is hardly worried about his back being anything more serious than tightness as a result of the fall. And in the short-term, they'll continue to play his game status by ear until further notice.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_