After the Boston Celtics tied the Philadelphia Sixers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers told reporters how he felt Joel Embiid looked health-wise in his return in Game 2.
“He looked good, and his numbers were great,” Rivers told reporters, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “That’s the one thing watching all the numbers we track, and his numbers were great last night. We didn’t play well, neither did any of us, but just the speed he reached, his explosions. They were very close to normal, so that was great for us to see.”
Rivers added that Embiid’s knee did not suffer any ill effects from playing Game 2, which is a good sign going forward.
“More importantly, great for him to be able to do it and then have very little swelling or anything like that,” Rivers added. “That was what we needed to find out in a lot of ways. Obviously, we didn’t win the game, but that’s important for us.”
Game 3 will be in Philadelphia on May 5.
Furkan Korkmaz Shares Thoughts on Joel Embiid’s MVP
Furkan Korkmaz is the second-longest tenured Sixer after Embiid, so when Embiid won the league’s Most Valuable Player award, Korkmaz reflected on what it’s been like for him to see Embiid win after all these years together.
“It’s been a long time, man,” Korkmaz told Carlin. “That’s the type of relationship we have, so we are like the last two survivors, it’s been a long time, but I’m glad that he won it because he deserved it. He really deserved it, so it’s been going on for a long time for this MVP thing and everything, but finally, he got it. I was so hyped for him. I felt really grateful to play with him. I think that was a historical moment for all of us.”
Korkmaz also sang Embiid’s praises for playing through his injury against the Celtics.
“I think what makes Joel special is he’s been playing through a lot,” Korkmaz added. “Even (Game 2), you can see that he’s in pain, but he’s just trying to play. I don’t know how many blocks he got, but he’s been playing with his heart. That’s why I was more hyped because I can feel his pain. He’s been going through a lot physically.”
Charles Barkley Calls Out Joel Embiid, James Harden
After the Sixers lost Game 2, Barkley singled out Embiid and James Harden as part of the reason why the Sixers lost the game.
“I do not like that the fact that (Embiid) was in there for a couple of reasons,” Barkley said, per NBA on TNT’s YouTube Channel. “I think James plays differently when Joel’s out there. He’s got a mental block. He’s not nearly as aggressive. It was night and day from Game 1 to Game 2 because they feel like, and rightfully so, they have to get Joel going, but I think it hurts (Tyrese) Maxey. I think it hurts Tobias Harris. (Rivers) said there’s no ball movement. That’s because Joel has the ball. They play at a much more freelance pace out when he’s not out there.”
Barkley added that the Sixers should have rested Embiid for Game 2.
“Now, are they a better team (without Embiid)? No, but I thought they should have gave him a couple more days and see what works.”