Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his first game back in nearly a month. He mentioned “rust” but that didn’t stop the home crowd from chanting “MVP, MVP, MVP” every time he touched the rock.
The NBA MVP from the first half of the season admitted that it was a scary situation when he first hurt his knee on March 12. Embiid thought he was headed for surgery as he lay in Washington writhing on the floor and gripping his left knee. Luckily, the doctors called it a “deep bone bruise.”
“I thought my season was done. The pain, how bad it was hurting, I just knew it was something worse than what we saw after,” Embiid told reporters after the Sixers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-113 on Saturday. “I was just crying and asking myself: ‘Why me? Why does it always happen to me?’ When everything seems to be going well with the team and myself, something always has to happen, and I’m glad that it wasn’t anything bad.”
Embiid had been questionable right up until tip-off on Saturday and the Sixers are taking a game-by-game approach with their valuable big man. Head coach Doc Rivers preached caution and wouldn’t commit to Embiid suiting up tonight versus the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s likely to be a game-time decision for a second straight night.
“It’s going to take a while to get back to myself,” Embiid said. “But my body feels great, obviously game shape is different than how your body feels.”
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No Timeline for George Hill’s Return
The Sixers knew they were getting an injured player when they traded for George Hill. The lights-out shooting guard hasn’t played since Jan. 24 after undergoing thumb surgery. Hill joined the team at shootaround on Saturday but hasn’t been cleared for contact yet. There is still no timeline for his return, according to Rivers.
“Not yet,” Rivers said. “He’s shooting the ball great but there’s no timetable or anything like that yet.”
Hill led the entire NBA in three-point percentage (46%) in 2020 and shoots it 38.4% from deep for his career. He was averaging 11.8 points per game this season for the Oklahoma City Thunder before getting hurt.
Iggy Brazdeikis Joins Sixers, Too
Iggy Brazdeikis, a second-round pick in 2019, was the other player the Sixers acquired in the three-team trade for Hill. He was at practice on Saturday and met with reporters for the first time. The 6-foot-6 forward saw action in just four games for the New York Knicks before getting dealt at the deadline.
“Everything happened really fast,” Brazdeikis told reporters. “I’m really excited to be here. And grateful for this opportunity, to be a part of this winning organization.”
Brazdeikis didn’t play on Saturday night against Minnesota and the Michigan product (by way of Lithuania) doesn’t appear to be a part of the Sixers’ plans in 2021. He’s stuck fighting for sparse minutes behind big men Mike Scott and Paul Reed. The 22-year-old has averaged 0.5 points and 0.5 rebounds per game in 13 career contests.