BOSTON — Philadelphia 76ers superstar center Joel Embiid, who was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player on Tuesday night, returned from a sprained LCL in his right knee and started Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series, a 121-87 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Embiid had 15 points, three rebounds and five blocks in 27 minutes.
He went through normal pregame drills Wednesday evening with a brace on the knee and was moving around without any issues. Embiid was ruled out 90 minutes before tipoff of the Sixers’ Game 1 victory on Monday night.
He was the last player to appear on the court during Monday morning’s shootaround, but it was a total reversal Wednesday when the team arrived at TD Garden. Embiid was the first player to walk into the arena bowl, quickly got his shoes on and began getting up shots for several minutes before the media’s 15-minute viewing period expired and shootaround got underway.
When asked after shootaround how he was feeling, Embiid said there was a “possibility” he would return but that he will rely on the advice of the team’s medical staff.
“I’m going to listen to those guys and see what they have to say, the doctors, and obviously I want to play,” Embiid said. “Everybody who knows me, I just love being on the court and I love to play. There’s a possibility, and if I get the green light, we’re going to go ahead.
“But I feel pretty good, just like I felt about the last game. I felt like we had a huge opportunity and we were gonna win, and tonight, whether I play or not, I believe in those guys.
Embiid went through a full workout Tuesday, which sources said went well, but the determining factor for Game 2 will be to see how his knee responded to that exertion.
“It’s just health-based,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday afternoon. “If he can play, he plays. If he can’t, he can’t. And if it’s 50-50, we would probably err on the other side [and not have him play], because we’ve done that all year.”
Philadelphia is trying to take a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series after James Harden‘s spectacular 45-point performance stunned the Celtics in Game 1.
Embiid sustained the injury April 20 when he landed awkwardly after contesting a shot by Brooklyn Nets forward Cam Johnson in Game 3 of Philadelphia’s first-round sweep.