Joel Embiid gave the impression that everything is just fine. What the 76ers center didn’t do was give any specifics about the tendinitis in his left knee.
As a result, the best way to describe his comments Saturday night was vaguely reassuring.
The two-time All-Star spoke to the media before the Sixers played the Golden State Warriors at the Wells Fargo Center. It was the fifth consecutive game he missed because of the tendinitis.
“I expect to be back by next week,” he eventually said.
But Embiid wouldn’t give a definitive return date. The center said that will depend on when he’s 100 percent.
The Sixers have four games over the next seven days: Tuesday at home against the Orlando Magic; Wednesday at the Chicago Bulls; Friday at the Houston Rockets; at home March 10 against the Indiana Pacers.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day,” he said. “It’s getting better. It feels good. I started working out again. So it’s all about making sure that it doesn’t react and getting back in shape, because I get out of shape, easily.”
He had been dealing with knee soreness at different stages of the season. He even sat out the Sixers’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 30 because of the soreness.
This time, the center was scheduled to be out at least a week. Sixers coach Brett Brown said Wednesday that he expected him to return against the Warriors. One day later, the coach said “we’re still learning more” when asked about the reexamination of the knee. On Friday, Embiid was ruled out of the game.
Embiid, however, said he could play if necessary.
“It’s all about long-term preservation, making sure I’m ready,” he said of remaining sidelined. “Not just for the playoffs, also for the next 15 years. ... We felt like it was better to preserve it, but it’s getting better."
Embiid said that it was him -- not the Sixers -- who decided to shut things down. "Game by game I just felt like it was getting worse,” he said, and he didn’t feel comfortable with that.
He had MRIs on Feb. 19 that revealed that it was “a little bit of tendinitis. It’s stuff I think is quite common, actually,” Brown said at the time.
But the MRIs came two days after Embiid started in the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, N.C., finishing with 10 points, a game-high 12 rebounds, one assist, one steal,, and a block for Team Giannis. Team LeBron won the game, 178-164. Embiid played a total of 23 minutes, 11 seconds.
So if his knee was getting worse, why play in the All-Star Game?
“It wasn’t bothering me,” he said. "I went through a couple of games where I was playing and after the game icing it. All of us NBA players, you [are] sore. It’s just soreness. Your whole body is sore. "
He said that happens every game.
“The All-Star Game I was good,” Embiid said. “That has nothing to do with playing in the All-Star Game. Nothing was bothering me.”
The Sixers headed into Saturday’s matchup in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Embiid said that because the Sixers are in great position to make the playoffs, this was the perfect time to rest in order to get to 100 percent. Embiid said this is all about making sure he’s good for the playoffs and the rest of his career.