The Philadelphia 76ers need Joel Embiid. The Cameroonian big man is battling tendonitis in his left knee, and it’s been a challenge for Brett Brown and his staff to manage Embiid’s minutes alongside of their need for him to perform in the playoffs.
Game 1 between the Toronto Raptors and Sixers is already in the books, with Kawhi Leonard & Co. taking the first win of second round, 108-95. Embiid played 30 minutes, scoring 16 points with eight rebounds and two assists.
Now Embiid says that he’s going to try to play it more minutes in an effort to help Philadelphia.
Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“It’s still not there. It’s still trying to get better,” Embiid said at shootaround Saturday in advance of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the favored Raptors. “But that’s an issue that’s going to be there at least all playoffs until I actually get some real time to get some rest and work on myself. …
“But, we did a good job managing it. Obviously I only averaged about 24 minutes last series, so this one I’m definitely going to need way more than that.”
“It’s hard because I’m known for playing through anything and pushing, pushing it,” Embiid said. “And in some situations like Game 3, I couldn’t go because it was too much. But like I said, I just got to keep managing it and see how I feel and then go from there.”
If you watched him late this year, Embiid goes through stretches where he looks perfectly normal. Those are counterbalanced by him often looking lumbering, tired, or simply off.
Even with the talent they have, Philadelphia has been one of the more mercurial teams in the Eastern Conference this year. The Raptors look to be firing on all cylinders, and after some serious load management, Leonard has been unleashed.
It’s going to be a tall task to beat the Toronto, and the 76ers are going to need every minute they can squeeze out of Embiid as long as his knee can handle the increase in minutes.