After a ten point loss by the 76ers to the Miami Heat in game 2 of their first-round series, Joel Embiid, who has not played in either of the two games, expressed his aggravation at his lack of court action in a profane Instagram story. “F***ing sick and tired of being babied,” it read. Embiid, who has risen to superstar status this year with 22.9 PPG, 11 RPG, and 3.2 APG, has not played since March 28th due to a concussion and facial injury he suffered that night against the Knicks. In July of last year, Embiid was fined by the league for making a crude comment about the ever-controversial Lavar Ball on Instagram. Embiid is something of a darling on social media, what with his endless trolling and a genuine sense of humor. That he took to Instagram to express frustrations is of little surprise.
76ers coach Brett Brown after the game responded to his star center’s Instagram story and assured the media that he had taken no offense. “He just wants to play basketball,” he said, “He wants to be with his team. He wants to play in front of the fans, and he wants to see this through. And when he’s not able to do that, he gets frustrated, and we respect his frustration. It’s borne out of competitiveness.” He went on to say that everyone from the top of the organization, from the team doctors to the coaching staff, was on the same page to Embiid. “What I can say is there is a very unified effort with his representation and the people around him. With the people that did the operation, the doctors, with our medical staff, with the team, with me, the coaching staff. We’re all doing this. There’s a unified sort of spirit and line of communication.”
The Sixers will need Embiid to be cleared as quickly as possible given that their series with the Heat will be a dogfight that could go seven games. After bombing threes and speeding up the pace in game 1, the Sixers were slowed down by the heat in game 2, unable to move the ball with the quickness and freedom that they had on Saturday. Embiid’s automatic offense on the low block will provide a critical counter to the Heat’s scrappy defense, opening things up in a manner that fits the Sixers offense. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the 76ers to win on the road, where they are headed for the next two games.
Unlike the extremely messy situation with Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs, this situation will likely blow over quickly, forgotten as soon as Embiid is able to take the floor, which could be as early as game 3 on Thursday.