Joel Embiid wasn't sure about his playing status heading into the Philadelphia 76ers' Game 1 matchup against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon. Roughly about a week after discovering he has a small torn meniscus in his knee, the big man was on the path to potentially missing his second-straight postseason game this year.
Embiid practiced for the Sixers on Friday and Saturday but avoided any live drills, according to his head coach, Doc Rivers. When asked about his status for Sunday's game following both practices, Rivers' message was consistent -- he wasn't sure.
“It’s too early [to tell if he'll play or not]," said Rivers. "I don’t want to say one way or the other. It’s just too early. So, we’ll just find that out.” During his pregame press conference on Sunday, Rivers revealed Embiid would warm up before the game, and a decision would be made after that.
Not even five minutes after exiting the court after his warmup session, Embiid was cleared for action and inserted into the starting lineup. In 38 minutes on the floor, Embiid went 12-21 from the field, and 14-15 from the charity stripe, collecting 39 points in the loss to the Hawks. After the game, Embiid discussed the struggles of playing through a notable knee injury such as the one he's currently dealing with.
“Playing on a ton meniscus is I guess. . . not easy," Embiid said after the loss to Atlanta. "It’s alright. I just gotta keep managing it and hope for the best. It doesn’t matter [when I decided to play]. I played, and I could’ve played better. We lost the game, so that’s where my focus is on. What to do better next time to make sure that we get a win.”
The Sixers will have the day off from physical basketball activities on Monday, and then they'll return to the court on Tuesday for Game 2. Although he doesn't have practice, Embiid will still have to undergo treatment on his knee to ensure he's ready to go for the next matchup.
"All I gotta do is keep managing it," the star center said. "Do my best, do as much treatment as I can to try to manage it and make sure that it doesn’t swell up too much. Obviously, the pain is going to be bad, and that’s normal, but it’s all about managing it and doing whatever it takes to win. My goal is to win a championship, and I’m going to put my body on the line to make sure that happens. I’m gonna give everything I got.”