PHILADELPHIA – The Phantom of the Process is back – and it's for the bestIt's not too late.
He returned from a concussion and facial fracture, and played 36 minutes. He scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to take his 76ers to victory. Victory over the In Game 3, Philadelphia will be relegated to the Eastern Conference semifinal after losing the first two.
When asked if there had ever been a time when Embiid thought he would not return to the series, Embiid replied “No,” “When it happened after we figured what really happened, I didn’t think of it.” [the possibility of not playing].
“I thought about what I was going do to ensure that I was back at any stage of that series, Game One, Game Two, Game Three or Game Four. I was doing everything that I could to get back.
Embiid spent several days dealing the aftermath of the concussion he received when he was struck in his face with an elbow by Raptors forwardPhiladelphia beat Toronto 6-1 in their first round series.
He was cleared by the league's concussion protocol Thursday. However, he said that he had to observe how he responded to training on Thursday before it could be officially determined if he would be able play.
He was eventually announced as part the starting lineup after taking to the court for his usual workout around 45 minutes before tip — one that he did while wearing the mask he would wear in the game.
“I can only imagine how hard it is,” saidIn 38 minutes, he had 17 points and six assists. “I mean I've had concussions before, so just in case, his face is swelling, still got a problem with his hand.
It was game-time. It was win time. It's the playoffs. Joel understood how important we needed him and delivered. Joel's dominance at both ends of the ball was very important to this group. It's extremely valuable.
“That's why we're the MVP and that's how we fed off him and we can just keep pushing.”
Doc Rivers, 76ers coach, said that Embiid's minutes would be restricted due to the fact that Embiid had not been able get enough conditioning time over the past week while he was recovering from the concussion.
Embiid managed to play 36 minutes after Rivers lobbied to keep him in for the fourth quarter. Miami had cut Philadelphia's lead to 3.
Embiid said that he was having trouble with his conditioning during the game. He added that he felt much better after Game 4.
Embiid stated that he didn't believe he had a lot energy. “I was trying to get through it and just using my presence as a decoy.
“Defense is what I am most proud of and that's why I believe that my presence on the defensive is where I can really make an impact.
Embiid stated that he was “pissed” by the spectacle.He watched from home, unable help, as the 76ers were beaten in Games 1 and 2. Adebayo, who had scored 23.5 points per game and grabbed 10.5 rebounds, shooting 15-for-21 in the first two games, was virtually eliminated from the action. He finished Game 3 with nine points, three assists, and five fouls in 33 minutes.
“He [made] a big impact,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. This is what we should expect. He is a player of the MVP caliber. He is also often considered the defensive player of year. Both ends must be well-thought out.
“We don't expect it to be easy. We were also a very strong team throughout the year. We expected him to be available for all series. We'll have to figure it all out.”
Embiid did not speak to media after Game 6 and was out since then with the concussion. He also addressed the play that caused the injury, which he did not address. Embiid claimed that he was not convinced that Siakam (a Cameroonian fellow-native) intentionally hit him with an elbow.
He also answered a lengthy and thoughtful question about interactions between fans, players, and the NBA in general. He mentioned hearing “F— Embiid”, chants all through the series, and how fans reacted when he was hit in the face.
Embiid claimed that he doesn't believe the act was deliberate. “That's my guy obviously. It's unfortunate. He didn't mean to do that, I think. You know, I was more upset by the perception of the time that this happened. Although I thought they had great fans, I sort of changed my mind about them. It could have been throughout the series, or the chants of ‘F —‘ and other stuff. That's cool.
“It never gets me down, anyways. It was because I did the celebration of the plane. However, this has been going on in a few arenas lately where fans feel it's OK to just say ‘F— somebody'. There are a lot of kids in that arena. Even if there weren't children, I think it shouldn't be okay. But it almost seems like the Draymond situation where the league can fine you.
“It doesn’t bother me. It doesn't bother my. You have to be able take it, just like I said. I have also said the same thing about our fans when they boo. You have to be able take it if the players want to go back.”
Rivers and Embiid teammates used the term “Embiid presence” several times to describe their impact. The Heat were unable to handle Game 3 despite having Embiid back.. Lowry missed the last four games due to a hamstring injury. He played 25 minutes in his hometown on Friday.
Lowry said that she had just one day of good work out. “I just had to find my rhythm. It was not what I expected to do tonight. I didn’t expect to win, but I just wanted to feel the game, and to just be out there.
“We had to bounce back, and we have to be ready for the next one.”
Embiid shared a similar message with his team.
He stated, “We're down 2 to 1, so we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
“We can't lose 3-1. This is why we need this Sunday game.