Joel Embiid is frustrated.
He watched from the bench in street clothes Monday as his Philadelphia team lost Game 2 of its first-round series against Miami, evening things up. He couldn’t play. While he has been cleared through the league’s concussion protocol and has a mask to protect his face following a fractured eye socket, the team doctors have not cleared him. Minutes after the loss, Embiid lashed out in anger in an Instagram story.
Coach Brett Brown was asked about Embiid’s frustration and his social media comments after the game and tried to spin it to a positive (via NBC Sports Philadelphia):
“He just wants to play basketball. He wants to be with his team, he wants to play in front of the fans and he wants to see this through. When he’s not able to do that, he gets frustrated, and I respect his frustrations. It’s borne out of him wanting to be with his team. And so the medical side, different reasons, I’m not going to go there. But I do know the spirit he delivered that [Instagram story] you just talked about reflects my conversations with him. It’s completely driven by team, competitiveness, I want to play basketball, that type of feeling more than anything.”
Embiid spoke to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN and echoed those same thoughts.
Embiid’s status for Thursday’s Game 3 in Miami has yet to be determined.
When he steps on the court, everything about this series will change — the Sixers will get their best player back. Their defensive anchor. Embiid also changes their offense (although the ball moves less with him out there). And it sets up the Embiid vs. Hassan Whiteside matchup — which will undoubtedly carry onto social media after the game.
Embiid wants to play, he wants to be out there with his teammates, but we know the Sixers and they are going to think about what is the best for the long-term, not about short-term gains. They always have.
So Embiid remains frustrated. As do Sixers fans.