Sixers star Joel Embiid expects to play more minutes in the conference semifinals, even though he is still bothered by tendinitis in his left knee, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Embiid averaged just 24.8 minutes in five first-round games against the Nets and was often a literal game-time decision. The limited minutes make his line for the series – 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 blocks per night – look even more impressive.
“It’s still not there. It’s still trying to get better,” Embiid said at today’s shootaround. “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. … But, we did a good job managing it. Obviously I only averaged about 24 minutes last series, so this one I’m definitely going to need way more than that.”
Embiid isn’t on the injured list as the series begins, so the Sixers are confident about his prospects. He has been dealing with knee issues for the past two months, missing 14 of 24 games regular season games after the All-Star break.
“It’s hard because I’m known for playing through anything and pushing, pushing it,” Embiid said. “And in some situations like Game 3, I couldn’t go because it was too much. But like I said, I just got to keep managing it and see how I feel and then go from there.”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- The Sixers have another injury concern in forward Mike Scott, McMenamin notes in the same story. Scott was wearing a walking boot today because of a heel contusion and plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Coach Brett Brown indicated that rookie Zhaire Smith may have an expanded role while Scott is sidelined.
- Representatives for Jimmy Butler met with Sixers GM Elton Brand before and after a November deal that brought him from Minnesota to express his interest in a long-term contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Butler is expected to opt out of a $19.8MM salary for next season and test the free agent market.
- The Nets will target Sixers forward Tobias Harris in free agency, but a report Friday indicates that the competition for his services will be intense, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The Grizzlies, Jazz and Mavericks will all consider pursuing the Long Island native, and the Sixers will have his Bird rights, meaning they can offer more years and higher raises than any other team. Lewis adds that Harris’ performance against the Nets in their playoff series increased Brooklyn’s desire to sign him.