Embiid says injury left him depressed after winning on Philadelphia 76ers return

Joel Embiid said the knee injury which sidelined him for two months left him feeling depressed after the Philadelphia 76ers star made a winning return to the court on Tuesday.

Embiid injured the lateral meniscus in his left knee during a game against the Golden State Warriors in late January and was forced to undergo surgery to rectify the issue.

The reigning NBA MVP missed 29 games during his two-month lay-off, but he made a somewhat surprising return during Tuesday’s 109-105 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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Embiid was initially thought unlikely to feature in Tuesday’s game but was ultimately able to manage 29 minutes on the floor, recording 24 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

The Sixers star was in incredible form prior to his injury, averaging over 35 points per game and threatening to score more points than minutes played for the season, putting himself back in the MVP conversation.

After Tuesday’s win, he opened up on the mental toll of missing a crucial part of the season, saying: “Usually, when I have injuries, I just tell myself, ‘move on to the next one, get better, and then fix it’.

“I’m still not where I’m supposed to be, especially mentally, but I just love to play and love basketball and I want to play and any chance that I can be out there, I’m going to take it.

“For some reason this injury was disappointing. It was depressing. It took me a while to get over it, and I still haven’t gotten over it. I’ve just got to take it day by day, look at the positives.

“I’m back. So, hopefully every single day, I’ll try to get better and get back to myself.”

Philadelphia have a 27-8 record when Embiid has played this season, but are just 14-27 without him. They remain 1.5 games behind the seventh-placed Miami Heat ahead of facing their fellow playoff hopefuls in Florida on Thursday.

With the Sixers eyeing a late playoff charge, head coach Nick Nurse was most concerned with managing Embiid’s fitness on Tuesday.

“I think minutes-wise, that was probably where I thought we would end up,” Nurse said. “I thought we got a good start into the half and it mapped out, minutes-wise.

“He scored some, I thought he passed the ball really well, but again, when we start amping up our defense in the last six minutes he was down there again, like I talked about before the game.

“Some of those Thunder drives didn’t look as productive, so that to me is where I really thought he impacted the game.”

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