A few weeks back, Joel Embiid went from questionable, to probable, to out against Toronto.
Last night, he went from doubtful, to very doubtful, to officially out, to the starting five.
Pregame, we were told by Brett Brown that Embiid had swelling and bruising in his shooting hand, resulting in difficulty catching the ball in the post. That was corroborated by Embiid, the discomfort part, who spoke at his locker around 5:30 p.m.
After warmups, however, he apparently told Sixers’ staff he was good to go, per Brown’s post-game explanation:
“This is the world we all live because I get up here and I tell everybody pregame everything I know, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (laughter), and you pivot out of that when it gets to the game-time decision and that’s what it is. It’s happened quite a bit, in Toronto you learn he’s gonna play or not. Tonight, there was nothing in my mind that suggested he was going to play based on the swelling in his hand and what we saw at practice. He went out and had a good warmup then he felt quite good about himself and with about 35:50, 36 minutes on the clock – I meet the team at 35 – it was announced to us that he felt good enough to play. And I think to Joel Embiid’s complete credit, he came in and he surprised me, he actually made some shots. If you saw the swelling in his hand you wouldn’t think that would be the impact, he would’ve blocked shots, he would’ve rebounded, he would’ve been physical defensively. But he actually still had some touch and finesse to his shot with a swollen right hand. It happened quick, it was completely unexpected and I give him a lot of credit for playing through complete pain and trying to play in front of the Philadelphia fans and help his teammates, that’s a gutsy effort.”
Embiid finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks. He favored the right hand at times but it didn’t seem to bother him much. He wore a wrist wrap in the first half, then took it off for the second half, explaining that he didn’t feel like it was making much of a difference.
He also told us that part of the reason he wanted to play was to get Brett Brown his first win against mentor Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, leading to this pretty cool moment after the victory:
RING US INTO THE NEW YEAR, COACH! pic.twitter.com/eGKrO2jaMV
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 4, 2018