The situation isn’t ideal. Just a handful of games into the 2021-22 NBA season, Joel Embiid’s health is already a concern for the Philadelphia 76ers.
If you recall, Embiid suffered a right meniscus tear in the first round of last season’s playoffs against the Washington Wizards. The All-Star center missed a game as a result of the injury, but he returned for Philadelphia’s second-round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks and played in all seven games of that series.
The knee didn’t seem to bother Embiid too much against Atlanta as he averaged 30.4 points and 12.7 rebounds in 37.4 minutes per performance over the course of the series. However, there was some speculation about whether or not he would need to undergo surgery after the season. Such a surgery never occurred as Embiid instead opted for a natural healing process. We didn’t hear much from Embiid over the offseason, but at Philadelphia’s media day in September, the big man provided a promising update on his knee.
“It’s been fine,” Embiid said of his knee at the time. “I’ve just been working out all summer. It’s been fine, no problems. I’m getting back to where I was and I feel pretty good.”
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Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the positive vibes around Embiid’s health didn’t last long. During Philadelphia’s first game of the season against New Orleans, Embiid tweaked that same right knee during a collision with Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas. Though he’s played in them all, Embiid has been listed as questionable for every game since then, and he has visibly winced on a couple of different occasions after putting pressure on the knee. It’s clearly bothering him. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Embiid couldn’t walk for two days after the season opener.
While he doesn’t deny that it has been a bit of a bother, Embiid has done his best to downplay the issue during media availability. After Philadelphia’s 110-102 win over Detroit on Thursday night (a game in which Embiid had 30 points and 18 rebounds), he explained that his goal, in addition to being out on the floor for his teammates, is to play more games than he did last season (51). The fact that he finished second in MVP voting last season — and games missed was frequently pointed to as a determining factor — probably played into the formulation of that goal.
“I’m just trying to be available for my teammates and my team, every single night playing hard, trying to do the best job I can,” Embiid said. “Every single year I come in with the mindset of playing as many games as I can, and this year obviously that first game is unfortunate, it happened, I got hit during the first game and it kind of handicapped me. But, every single year I come in with the mindset that I got to play more games than I have in the past and so far this year I am on the right path and whatever I am needed to do I am going to be doing it.
“Like I always say, there are no excuses,” Embiid added. “I’m fine, I can’t complain, I am doing what I love and every single day I …….