As ever, Ben Simmons has been a crucial ingredient to the Philadelphia 76ers‘ winning formula this season. If anyone doubted as much, they needn’t look further than the team’s 0-4 record in the games that Simmons missed last week due to illness for proof of concept.
That said, the Sixers will only go as far as their MVP candidate, Joel Embiid, takes them. Without question, the four-time All-Star is the team’s focal point and anchor on both sides of the ball. So, keeping him healthy and on the floor is obviously of the utmost importance.
Philly dodged a major bullet in March when Embiid fell prey to what appeared to be a major knee injury. Instead, it was determined that he had suffered a bone bruise and he was able to return to the court a few weeks later.
Nevertheless, the injury has continued to affect him and, until recently, the big man had been wearing a brace on his left knee.
On Thursday, Embiid scored 17 points and added seven boards and three blocks in 25 minutes of play during the Sixers’ 44-point throttling of the Atlanta Hawks. After the game, he offered an update on the current condition of his knee.
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Embiid Discusses His Recovery After Left Knee Bone Bruise
As Embiid spoke with the media, he was asked about ditching his brace. In response, he offered an encouraging update about his knee and the post-injury recovery process.
“It’s doing good,” Embiid said. “It’s hard when you go from something so heavy to kind of less weight. It feels better, I’m still not moving the way I was before, mainly because I’m trying to let the game come to me.”
Although Embiid’s mobility has been noticeably improved in recent contests, he made it clear that he’s not rushing to get back to where he was pre-injury. Instead, he’s aiming to return to his old self in time for postseason play.
“I don’t want to push too much, I want to let it come to me,” he said. “I don’t want to skip steps, but by the time we get to the playoffs I should be back to the aggressiveness and dominance that I had before.”
In 43 games this season, Embiid is averaging a career-high 29.5 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 blocks per contest.
Sixers-Hawks: Round 2
The Sixers never trailed in their win over the short-handed Hawks, asserting their dominance in grand fashion on both sides of the ball. Philly held Atlanta to just 33 percent shooting for the night (and 6-of-19 from distance) while posting one of its most complete offensive performances of the season.
Embiid and Co. will be tasked with attempting a repeat performance against the same squad on Friday. This time, though, the Sixers will square off with the Hawks at State Farm Arena in the ATL.
While the Hawks are a sub-.500 team on the road, they have been significantly better at home, going 18-11 so far this season.
Moreover, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk had previously expressed some hope — via 92.9 The Game’s Mike Conti — that Trae Young and DeAndre Hunter could be back on the court by week’s end.
So, Round 2 could be a much stiffer test for the Sixers.