There are two statistics in Monday’s 145-123 win over the Brooklyn Nets that stood out for 76ers center Joel Embiid.
One was 0:27, and the other was 0-for-0.
As the two-time All-Star continues to battle left knee soreness, his minutes are watched as closely as his low-post play.
With a 116-87 lead entering the fourth quarter, Embiid only played the first 27 seconds of the final period. (Why he played at all with a 29-point lead is a fair question.) Embiid drew his fifth personal on an offensive foul 13 seconds into the quarter and was out for good 14 seconds later.
That meant he only had to play 20 minutes, 55 seconds, saving some wear and tear on his body. He still had 23 points and 10 rebounds, taking advantage of every single minute.
Tied at one game apiece, this opening round Eastern Conference quarterfinals resume on Thursday night in New York.
Embiid continues to be the focal point, even with reduced minutes.
His knee noticeably hindered him the first two games and is likely to continue having him play with discomfort for the immediate future.
On the NBA’s injury report on Wednesday, Embiid was listed as questionable for Game 3. He was doubtful for Game 1, when he finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds, and was and questionable for Game 2.
Coach Brett Brown said after Wednesday’s practice that had Game 2 been closer in the fourth quarter, Embiid would have been able to play. Still, the lesser load was welcomed.
As for the other statistic, Embiid was 0 for 0 from three-point range.
When he is inside, even on a sore knee, Embiid remains an unstoppable player. As he drifts to the perimeter, the Nets will allow him to shoot, until at least he makes them pay.
Embiid didn’t make the Nets pay in Game 1, when he was 0 for 5 from beyond the arc in Brooklyn’s 111-102 win.
It might even take more than the 3-for-4 effort from beyond the arc that Embiid had in a win over the visiting Nets on March 28 to make Brooklyn stop daring him to shoot from long range.
That’s because he is so dominating inside, something he proved again in the Game 2.
“He was being physical, being Jo, getting down low and we were going to him,” f Ben Simmons said about Embiid, following Wednesday’s practice.
In reviewing the statistics, Embiid scored eight field goals on Monday. The farthest out he scored was from 10 feet, which he did twice. Embiid also hit a seven-footer, a four-foot hook, a finger roll, two driving layups and a cutting dunk off a feed from Simmons.
Embiid didn’t practice on Wednesday, something that is a common occurrence in the postseason. He has been receiving extensive treatment. While he wasn’t available for comment on Wednesday, he talked about his troublesome knee after Monday’s victory.
“I played through the pain and play for them and give whatever I can,” he said, referring to his teammates.
He admits it has been hard missing so many games and now being on a minutes restriction, which Brown wouldn’t say how many minutes he is able to play. Embiid didn’t play in 14 of the final 24 regular-season games.
“When I am out there, I kind of forget about the pain and just play through it and trying to do the right things," Embiid said.