Joel Embiid returned to action on Tuesday night, his first game since January 30th after undergoing a meniscus procedure. He scored 24 points on 6-14 shooting, went 12-12 from the foul line, and added six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in 29 minutes. After the 109-105 win against the Thunder, he said this:

“Usually when I have injuries I just tell myself (to) move on, on to the next one, get better and then fix it. But this one took a toll mentally, being depressed. It was not a good one. Still not where I’m supposed to be, especially mentally, but I just love to play. I love basketball and want to play. Any chance I can be out there, I’m gonna take it.”

No doubt. It SUCKS. Even if you’re some washed up suburban dad with a sprained ankle, you know the feeling. You want to be out there playing flag football with your buddies, but you’re stuck on the couch watching Disney+ with your kids. Now take that feeling of helplessness and nihilism and amplify it tenfold. Imagine you’re the reigning NBA MVP and you were having a career year before having to go under the knife and miss two full months of games. You’re watching your teammates try to stay afloat and keep you in the playoff race. It had to have been brutal for Joel, especially considering his injury history and the the fact that he can never make it through a full season completely healthy. I’m sure it starts to wear on you after a while, like a cumulative “oh no, not again” type of feeling.

Welcome back, big guy. The Sixers are 8th in the East with six games remaining. I’m looking at the rest of the year with an open mind and no expectations.