Thursday, August 11 2022
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The biggest story surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers this season has been Ben Simmons‘ continued absence from the team. A very close second, though, has been the health of star big man Joel Embiid, who has been dealing with a troublesome knee since opening night. 

On Monday, the team announced that Embiid will not play in their game against the Portland Trail Blazers. The good news that it is simply a rest day. Over the weekend Embiid underwent an MRI on his knee which came back clean, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN

During the Sixers’ first game, a win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Embiid banged knees with Jonas Valanciunas and has been dealing with soreness ever since. He said after the team’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets that he probably should not have played, and Shelburne reported that he couldn’t walk for two days after the initial blow

Embiid’s MRI coming back clean is obviously positive, but an early-season injury scare is not what the Sixers needed. Not with Simmons still missing, and not with Embiid’s health history. 

He has never played more than 64 games in a season, and is coming off a torn meniscus that he suffered in last season’s playoffs. If the Sixers want to compete at the top of the Eastern Conference, they need Embiid healthy at the end. At the same time, with no Simmons they need Embiid more than ever in the regular season to rack up wins and improve their seeding.

Embiid, to his credit, has tried to downplay the situation. 

“Like I always say, there are no excuses,” Embiid said recently. “I’m fine, I can’t complain, I am doing what I love and every single day I wake up and that’s what I want to do and that’s what I want to keep focusing on and whatever happens, happens. But I am fine.” 

But despite what he’s said, it’s clear he’s been bothered by the knee. He finished with 19 points and five rebounds on 5 of 13 from the field last time out against the Atlanta Hawks, and last week had just 14 points and six rebounds on 2 of 7 shooting against the New York Knicks

It’s also clear that he had been playing through the pain in large part because of Simmons’ absence. Now, finally, he is getting a much-needed break. That may be bad news in the short term for the Sixers, who have historically struggled without him, but it’s the right decision for the long-term outlook of both Embiid and the team. 



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