Joel Embiid boarded a plane back home with his Sixers’ teammates after Game 4 feeling calm and optimistic. Yes, the All-Star center has a torn ligament in his right thumb — an MRI confirmed a tear on Sunday — but the plan is to play through the pain no matter what the doctors say.
Embiid came armed with jokes, too: “Africans don’t feel pain.” The 28-year-old clearly was bothered by the injury on the court, though. Embiid told reporters on Saturday that it was “painful” and hindered him when he tried to rebound, shoot free throws, and pass the ball. He still finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds in Game 4 but didn’t always look like his MVP self.
Embiid knows he’s going to have to make adjustments to account for the injury moving forward. It’s pretty hard to play basketball with a torn ligament in the thumb on your shooting hand.
“All injuries are different and I wish it would have happened on my other hand, not on my shooting hand,” Embiid told reporters after Game 4. “But I’m going to adjust, I guess that means I’m going to have to use my left hand more than I’m used to. But I’m going to adjust.”
Embiid continued: “I thought tonight I was fine shooting the ball. They were really aggressive every single time I touched the ball, really everyone on the court. They just doubled and tripled me, they tried to get the ball out of my hands, so I gotta make adjustments and be more physical and get deeper touches.”
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Embiid Putting His Faith in God
Embiid is fond of saying whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. He can only control what he can control. Such is the case with his injured right thumb. The 7-footer will manage the pain the best he knows how and leave the rest up to God.
“It’s whatever. I’m Catholic, I believe in God. I always put it in his hands,” Embiid said. “That’s why when I go out there I don’t focus on what can happen or what’s going to happen. I just go out there hoping for the best and trust in him [God].”
Aside from the hand ailment, Embiid revealed that he battled a severe sickness during the first two games of the Raptors-Sixers series. He didn’t say exactly what it was but it was something else he had to fight through. He went for 19 points and 15 boards in Game 1, then 31 points and 11 boards in Game 2. He’s averaging 26 and 11.8 over four games.
“Nobody knows but I was really sick for the first two games but I fought through it,” Embiid said. “So it’s the playoffs, nothing is going to stop me, so I just got to keep going and hope for the best.”
Sixers Going Back to the Drawing Board
Slow starts have plagued the Sixers in back-to-back contests. They were lucky to battle back in Game 3 – thanks to a miraculous, buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Embiid — and pull out an improbable win in that one.
Not so much in Game 4 which saw them trail by as many as 14 points. Something has to change for the Sixers to close out the Raptors. And Embiid knows it.
“I don’t know but that’s something that we got to change. We have to fix it,” Embiid said of the slow starts. “When we got to the playoffs, we had that problem right before the playoffs, at the end of the regular season — that’s a problem that we have to fix. We need to go back to the drawing board and go back to doing whatever it takes to be better.”