CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid’s status for Game 1 against the Nets remains a mystery.
GM Elton Brand said he was “optimistic.” Brett Brown said he “expects” his starters to play.
What did Joel Embiid have to have say at the team’s practice facility Friday?
“I have no idea.”
Not exactly the answer Sixers fans were looking for.
It was first announced that Embiid was dealing with left knee soreness right after the All-Star Game. Embiid then missed the first eight games coming out of the break and then missed 14 of the last 24 games to close out the season.
Like it has been for much of the second half of the season, Embiid will be a true game-time decision.
“It’s my decision because I’m the one feeling the pain and it’s my body,” Embiid said. “[The medical staff] is going to do whatever they can as far as getting me ready and healthy, but if my body doesn’t respond based on the pain level, there’s really nothing you can do.”
Embiid said that everything with his knee is still structurally sound. All the scans the medical staff has done have come back negative. It’s a matter of pain tolerance, so Embiid really won’t know if he’ll be able to go until he has the chance to test it prior to Game 1 Saturday (2:30 p.m./NBCSP).
“Whatever I’ve been feeling the past couple days has been different,” Embiid said. “It still hasn’t changed [structurally]. Everything looks good — the scans and everything — but it’s just the pain level just changed. It just got worse but that’s what I do.
“I think everybody that knows me knows that I want to be on the floor and I always play through pain and injuries and everything, but if I can’t go that means that it’s pretty painful. Like I said, I’m still glad there’s nothing else going on and for me just some regular pain that I got to work through.”
If Embiid is unable to go, this will be the second season in a row that he’ll miss the beginning of the postseason.
Last season, he dealt with a facial fracture after catching an inadvertent elbow from teammate Markelle Fultz. The injury caused him to miss the final eight games of the regular season and the first two games of the first round against Miami.
With a team that was assembled with a playoff run in mind, missing its “crown jewel” at the start isn’t ideal. Brown has clearly grown tired of the questions about Embiid and his health — something he’s dealt with since the team drafted Embiid in 2014.
It’s those experiences that he feels make him equipped to handle the possibility of his All-Star center sitting out.
“I’m so numb — in a good way, in a positive way — to the many things that have come up over our days together,” Brown said. “What I do know is here we are about to enter the NBA playoffs, I have the best team I’ve ever coached and we’re excited to go play Brooklyn …
“We’ve all gone through a lot. I’ve been a coach while we’ve been through a lot. I’m excited to go play basketball. If we do this right — and I believe we will — if I’ve learned anything in my 19 years in the NBA and 14 years in the playoffs, you have to go into this with psychological stability.”
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.