There was a scary scene late in the fourth quarter of Game 1. Joel Embiid was crashing the boards when he seemed to aggravate his injured right knee. The Philadelphia 76ers big man hopped around on it rather gingerly and then powered through the pain.
Embiid and the Sixers lost Sunday’s game 128-124 to the Atlanta Hawks. More importantly, their All-Star center made it through the series opener in one piece while looking like his usual dominant self. Embiid finished with 39 points and nine rebounds in 38 minutes. There was no pitch count or minute restriction on him, and the 7-footer didn’t foresee any coming in the future. He may be playing hobbled, but that won’t stop him from being aggressive. Embiid’s message was simple: it’s the playoffs.
“You can’t worry about how many minutes someone is supposed to play or is going to play. You got to go with your best guys,” Embiid told reporters. “As long as I’m OK to be out there, I’m going to be my best and I’m going to keep pushing until I can’t. But as long as I’m out there, I’m going to play hard. I’m going to dive for loose balls. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win.”