An ongoing issue with knee tendinitis has limited Philadelphia 76ers All-Star centre Joel Embiid since the All-Star break, causing him to miss the final two games of the 2018-19 regular season and Game 3 of the Sixers first-round series with the Nets.
Despite the fact that Embiid visibly wasn't 100% physically, he finished the opening round with averages of 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 blocks while playing just 24.3 minutes per game.
SERIES PREVIEW: Raptors vs. 76ers
With Philadelphia eliminating Brooklyn in five games, the team had three days to rest in between series, but ahead of Game 1, Embiid told reporters at shootaround that his knee issues still linger despite the Sixers' off time: "It's still not there. It's still trying to get better, but that's an issue that's going to be there at least all playoffs until I actually get some real time to get some rest and work on myself…"
Embiid continued, citing his minutes (or lack thereof) in the first round and acknowledged the challenges that the Raptors present means he must play more this round: "Obviously, I only averaged about 24 minutes last series, so this one I'm definitely going to need way more than that."
MORE: Can Gasol slow down Embiid?
Among the challenges to come for Embiid and the Sixers is the Raptors defence, which boasts an impressive rating of 95.8 through five postseason games. TSN's Josh Lewenberg shared what Embiid had to say about his upcoming matchup with a 'great defender' in Marc Gasol.
Embiid said he knows Gasol a bit, that Marc would text him advice after some of their previous meetings. "Marc is a great player and a great defender, so it's going to be a tough series... I have a lot of respect for him."- Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) April 27, 2019
Embiid added that Gasol's shooting ability presents a different challenge than the Nets big men did in the first round, meaning that his personal approach on the defensive end will likely have to be different in the second round.
Expect Embiid to take the challenges head-on (in more than 24 minutes) as Philadelphia looks to steal Game 1 from Toronto.