Joel Embiid finally makes his NBA debut in preseason opener against Celtics


Joel Embiid finally makes his NBA debut in preseason opener against Celtics

AMHERST, Mass. -- Philadelphia center Joel Embiid will play in his first professional game tonight against the Boston Celtics after two years marred by injuries.

Having been sidelined for such a long period of time, it’s only natural for doubt to creep in at some point.

It got so bad for Embiid that there was a point in which he felt he needed to take some time away from the game altogether.

He said the low point came following the death of his brother in 2014.

“When my brother died, I didn’t feel too good about it when I went back home,” Embiid told reporters prior to Tuesday’s game against the Celtics. “And going through my injuries and going through that and … it was a little bit hard. I’m glad I’m here.”

So are the Sixers who view the former lottery pick as a key piece in their rebuilding efforts.

When asked whether he thought about giving up on the game altogether, Embiid said, “I wouldn’t say giving it up. I think I thought about taking time off; it was hard.”

Indeed, the road Embiid has taken has been a difficult one, the kind that few players can ever fully understand or appreciate for its level of difficulty.

Teammate Elton Brand understands all too well what Embiid is going through.

When Brand came into the NBA, he was the top overall pick in 1999 and the level of expectations for him and future success was high.

Brand is 38 years old now, well aware of his limitations on the floor due to Father Time.

But he provides experience and wisdom, both of which he shares often with Embiid.

“It’s a preseason game, but he’s gonna have butterflies like it’s the playoffs,” Brand told CSNNE.com. “My advice to him is just relax, never get too high with the highs and never get too low with the lows. Because in this league, you’re going to go through both.”

During those moments of doubt, Embiid said he eventually decided to go forward.

“My love for the game; I love playing,” he said. “I love competing. I’m a competitive guy. When you go through tough times like I did, ideas go through your head.”

The only ideas he's thinking about these days involve helping the Sixers become a better team with him (finally) healthy enough to contribute. 

NBCSB Breakfast pod: How Jayson Tatum compares to Paul Pierce

NBC Sports Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast pod: How Jayson Tatum compares to Paul Pierce

1:25 - With half of the Celtics roster on the shelf, we’ve been able to see just how great a scorer Jayson Tatum can be. A. Sherrod Blakely, Mike Girardi and Trenni Kusnierek discuss how Tatum compares to Celtics legend, Paul Pierce.

5:35 - The NFL Competition Committee is giving it their best shot at modifying the ‘catch rule’ and Tom Curran, Kyle Draper and Hardy try to wrap their heads around the proposed changes.

11:02 - The Bruins clinched a playoff berth despite losing to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Joe Haggerty joins Tom Giles to break down the game, which included another goal by Ryan Donato and a questionable call on a high hit on David Krejci.

Report: Kyrie Irving to undergo knee exam Thursday


Report: Kyrie Irving to undergo knee exam Thursday

The second opinion on Kyrie Irving’s sore left knee will be done on Thursday, according to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett.

Irving, who has missed the last four games, is expected to decide between having a surgical procedure performed to help alleviate some of the soreness, or continue to manage it with rest.


During the 2015 NBA Finals, Irving suffered a fractured left kneecap injury which was the beginning of Irving’s left knee issues.

While Irving has had soreness of some form during various stretches of play this season, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen him making progress recently.

“That knee is still sore,” Stevens said. “He’s worked really hard to manage it throughout the entire season. He’s had some pretty good days recently. I’m encouraged by the big picture.”

But Stevens has made it clear that he supports Irving getting a second opinion, adding that Irving’s absence is due to the knee being too sore for him to play at a level he’s accustomed to.

“He’s out because of knee soreness, not because we’re choosing to rest him,” Stevens said. “That’s the bottom line. Again, we want him to feel 110 percent. He wants to feel 110 percent. Obviously, we’re fortunate we created a cushion early on in the year with playoffs and everything else. This is not one of those situations where we’re choosing to rest someone; it’s because he has a sore knee.”