Dealing with the pain of an injury is only half the battle.
It's a lesson Joel Embiid is learning these days as he fights through a torn ligament in his right thumb. Yes, the pain is at times frustrating for the Philadelphia 76ers' superstar, but the bigger problem is he's letting it impact his game.
"I think I'm in a situation where I try to protect it," he said following Philadelphia's Game 6 loss to the Toronto Raptors. "So before I even attack or if I even get the ball it's almost like I'm not playing freely. I'm like if I do this I might get hit or I might get hurt and so I think I just got to get out of that mentally and I guess hope for the best and just be myself and not think about which move can put me in a bad position to get hit or get hurt even more."
Embiid wasn't bad by any means on Monday night, but he wasn't himself. He was 7-for-15 with 20 points and got to the line for just six free throws. Sure, Toronto swarmed him, doubling him on the catch most of the night to get the ball out of his hands, but he wasn't playing with the same kind of aggressiveness he had earlier in the series.
"I thought he was OK," Doc Rivers said. "The only time I saw it was there was a loose ball that he clearly could have got. I think it was in the second quarter that he didn't reach for and I get that. So you've just got to live with stuff like that. Those are the ones that he'll probably later grab but right now he's probably concerned by (it)."
The Raptors aren't going to celebrate Embiid's injury by any means, but they certainly want him to think about the thumb when he's attacking them on offense. If he's at all hesitant or unwilling to play with the kind of physicality he's known for, that's a major advantage for Toronto.