Joel Embiid sets new NBA Playoffs high mark despite battling Bell’s palsy

When Joel Embiid made his long-awaited return to the Philadelphia 76ers after missing a third of the season to recover from a procedure to repair his torn left meniscus, long-suffering Sixers fans thought they’d only have one injury to worry about as the team entered the NBA playoffs against the New York Knicks.

They were quickly proven wrong in that assumption, however, as while Embiid has certainly looked to be slightly less than his full self physically as he ramps up his conditioning, it was a mysterious eye/face issue that has been capturing the internet’s attention.

UPDATE: 10:51 P.M. ET — Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Embiid is playing through a case of Bell’s palsy that he did not want to publicly reveal as a distraction:

According to The Mayo Clinic, Bell’s Palsy “is a condition that causes sudden weakness in the muscles on one side of the face. Often the weakness is short-term and improves over weeks. The weakness makes half of the face appear to droop. Smiles are one-sided, and the eye on the affected side is hard to close.” Which is exactly what Embiid appears to have been dealing with for over a week.

As our own Erin Grugan has been all over at Liberty Ballers, the issue started around the team’s play-in game against the Miami Heat, and has been getting more and more noticeable since, culminating in a Game 3 performance against the Knicks that saw the reigning MVP continue to at times appear visibly unable to blink his left eye:

But then things got stranger, as the left side of Embiid’s mouth appeared to not be moving the same way as the right side:

Embiid also spent previous media availabilities looking down… potentially so that cameras couldn’t get a better look up close. On Thursday, he told reporters — including our own Paul Hudrick — that the issue has been “annoying” … which feels like putting it mildly:

But as scary as that is — seriously, it’s hard to imagine even watching basketball while dealing with something like that, much less playing with it in the NBA — Embiid didn’t let the issue stop him from putting up potentially the greatest playoff game of his career.

After guaranteeing that the Sixers would win the series following their heartbreaking (and controversial) Game 2 collapse in Madison Square Garden, Embiid made sure they at the very least weren’t going to lose Game 3, roasting the Knicks for 50 points in the team’s 125-114 win.

He was cooking on post-ups, and then once his jumper got going, it was over for New York:

Embiid went 13-19 from the field and 19-21 from the free-throw line to go with 8 rebounds, 4 assists and a block, and his 50 points were not only his own playoff career-high and a high for the 2024 postseason so far, but is also the most points anyone has scored against the Knicks in a postseason game since Michael Jordan. The fact that he did it all while facing a, frankly, terrifying health issue makes it all the more unbelievable.

It remains to be seen if the Sixers will overcome their many disadvantages in this series to ultimately win, but between not just gutting out, but THRIVING at a career-best playoff level — against a great Knicks defense, it should be noted — despite both a previously known knee issue now this case of Bell’s palsy, no one can argue Embiid hasn’t done literally everything in his power to give the Sixers a chance to advance.

And now that we know what’s (reportedly) going on, hopefully the Big Fella feels better soon. As Thursday showed, the postseason is better when he is cooking.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top