The Philadelphia 76ers looked terrible as a team Wednesday, but coach Doc Rivers said he felt very good about Joel Embiid’s health after the blowout loss.
Rivers said Thursday that Embiid, who returned Wednesday from a sprained LCL in his right knee, is feeling good after the team's 121-87 loss to the Boston Celtics. His motion-tracking numbers, Rivers added, were “phenomenal.”
"He looked good, and his numbers were great," Rivers said, via ESPN. "We didn't play well, but just the speed that he reached, you know, his explosions, they were very close to normal. So that was great for us to see.
"And more importantly, great for him to be able to do it and see that he can do it, and then have very little swelling or anything like that. So that's what we needed to find out. Obviously we didn't win the game. But that's important for us."
Embiid, who was named the league’s MVP on Tuesday, returned from a two-week break after he sprained his right knee during the first round of the playoffs on April 20. He scored 15 points on 9 shot attempts and added 3 rebounds in the blowout loss Wednesday.
While Rivers insisted before the game that Embiid was healthy and they weren’t going to risk him, Embiid admitted he probably wasn’t at full strength.
“I was supposed to be out for 4-6 weeks or something like that, so I’m not going to be 100 percent or fully healed for that whole time,” Embiid said Wednesday. “I’m going to keep playing through anything. We’ve got a big chance, and I’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Game 3 of the series, which is tied 1-1, is set for Friday in Philadelphia. The 76ers are hunting for their first Eastern Conference finals appearance since 2001.
In order to get there, they’ll need an Embiid who is playing at the MVP level he displayed during the regular season.
"It's not that hard," Rivers said via ESPN. "We're making too much of it. We really are. I mean, should we just play different the rest of the year now, or should we play the way we played all year? You know what I mean? This is not rocket science. And it's not that hard to do.
"We didn't play well. I thought their ball pressure took us out of everything. It wouldn't have mattered if Joel was there or not. We would have had a tough offensive night, you know, with the way we allowed them to play inside of us. They pushed us all around. They rolled us off of spots. We couldn't get organized because of their pressure. So we'll be better."