Sixers MVP Joel Embiid on his NBA Playoffs return vs. Boston: ‘I wasn’t as aggressive. Not myself.’

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Only a day after Philadelphia’s big man Joel Embiid finally received his 2022/23 league MVP award, he made his return to the basketball courts even though he wasn’t fully recovered from his injury. His highly-awaited performance didn’t go as expected, as the Celtics destroyed them in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference’s Semifinals, falling 121 to 87.

The Sixers center had missed the last two matches due to a sprained right LCL, as his team beat both Brooklyn in the last outing of the postseason’s first round, and a surprising victory against Boston in this week’s Game 1.

It seems Embiid’s emotions got the best of him, considering that he really wasn’t ready to lead the 76ers in Wednesday’s contest. “I wasn’t as aggressive,” Embiid said after the game. “Not myself. We got this out of the way. This is a step to getting back to being myself.”

Even though he only scored 15 points and won 3 rebounds throughout the match, he had a couple of stellar moments that were but glimpses of his MVP potential. Take a look at this impressive poster block on Celtics’ Jaylen Brown:

Now as the series are tied 1-1, Philly’s head coach Doc Rivers admitted that his star center seemed “rusty.”

“I thought he got out of rhythm a couple of times and I thought we were out of rhythm as well,” the trainer expressed. “But we expected that. We knew there was going to have to be some kind of growing pains bringing him back. I’m glad we got it out of the way today.”

Embiid was later asked about his recovering knee, and he recognized he wasn’t completely healthy. “I was supposed to be out four to six weeks,” he said. “I’m not going to be 100 percent. I’m not going to be fully healed.”

Nevertheless, the medical staff has cleared him to play and he guarantees to play to his fullest in the games to come. “I think I’ll be fine. I’ve played through a lot,” he told the press. “We’ve got a big chance and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”

NBA experts believe it was a huge mistake to play the big man in Game 2

Many basketball analysts consider it was a very impatient move to place Embiid in the starting lineup so quickly after his supposed knee recovery, and it consequently affected Philadelphia’s exhibition.

Skip Bayless from “Indisputed” was one who did not partake in coach Rivers’ decision:

“I told you yesterday, I thought Joel could help in rim protection, but only in rim protection,” he said. “So, what did I see in the first half? I saw Boston come out and they didn’t believe in his knee with the giant brace on him and said ‘let’s attack him’. We are either going to get him in foul trouble or expose him as a statue in the lane.”

Even though the center blocked many shots in the first half, Boston tired him out, and dedicated the rest of the game to shoot from threes. “They shot 51 and scored 20,” Bayless added. “And as Joel said after the game, ‘they just made shots’.”

Now Embiid’s status for Game 3 should be monitored, considering they only have one day to rest prior to the next face off in Philadelphia for Game 3 on Friday at 7:30pm ET.