Joel Embiid's been dealing with a lot lately. Early on last month, the Sixers star became the fourth member of the team to enter the NBA's health and safety protocol. After returning a positive test, the Sixers center was confirmed to be symptomatic.
He went on to miss nine-straight games for the Sixers. Last week, Embiid was ramping up the action and getting ready to return in last Saturday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves and admitted he had doubts about his status.
However, he pushed through and managed to check in for a season-high of 45 minutes in the double-overtime loss to the T'Wolves. Embiid's long shift on Saturday didn't hold him out of Monday's game against the Orlando Magic. He also appeared in Wednesday's game against the Boston Celtics.
Following the loss on Wednesday night, Embiid talked about how difficult it's been returning from his COVID-19 hiatus.
"I will never use it as an excuse, but it's gonna take me a while to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that stuff," said Embiid on Wednesday. "Every single day, I just gotta keep working hard and keep getting better."
In addition to the uphill battle of returning from COVID, Embiid also revealed he hurt his hand during Wednesday's game. As the big man joked that Boston center Enes Freedom "had too much freedom" on the floor, Embiid mentioned that he dealt with soreness throughout the matchup the other night.
"I got hit there pretty bad in the first quarter," Embiid said. "I mean, hopefully, it gets better, but it was pretty painful for the rest of the way. When I was shooting the ball in rhythm, I could feel it. But it was fine. I could feel it most when I was shooting free throws and the three. Hopefully, it gets better."
The good news is that Embiid avoided the injury report for Friday night's game between the Sixers and the Atlanta Hawks. The bad news is that Embiid was seen sporting a bandage on his hand during Philly's Friday morning shootaround.
Now, Embiid will add hand pain to his list of issues he has to battle through this year. Earlier in the season, he dealt with knee soreness after injuring it during the first game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Then, he tested positive for COVID-19. Now, Embiid is hoping to get over his hand pain soon as he looks to improve his shooting after having a rough two-game stretch from the field.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.