Elton Brand ‘optimistic' Joel Embiid will be ready for Game 1 of playoffs, but he won't guarantee it


“I’m optimistic.”

Sixers general manager Elton Brand kept returning to that line Wednesday night when he met with the media before the team's regular-season finale vs. the Bulls. 

He kept having to, because he kept being asked about the health of Joel Embiid. 

Brand said the Sixers’ All-Star center is “doing everything in his power to be ready for this weekend,” when the Sixers will begin their first-round playoff series.

When pressed, however, he did acknowledge that “it’s possible” Embiid won’t play in Game 1.

“Again, I’m optimistic he’ll be ready this weekend,” Brand said.

Embiid will miss 18 games this season, including the first eight after the All-Star break with left knee tendinitis and the last two games of the regular season. The Sixers entered Wednesday night 7-10 without him.

Brand was asked whether he wishes Embiid would’ve had more “load management” days early in the season.

He’s a hyper-competitive player. He wants to win everything. It’s about how he presents. We work with Joel with load management. … Can you go out there; what do you want to do? So our athlete care and Joel work together side by side. So when he presents well and he goes out there and is dominating with 30-point, 20-rebound, five block-type games and no ill effects, you keep going with it because that’s what he wants to do. He knows how important he is to his organization and his teammates. 

Given Embiid played almost 28 minutes Saturday night against a severely shorthanded Bulls team, it would certaintly be a surprise if he misses Game 1 of the playoffs. Still, Brand wasn’t willing to guarantee it.

“He’s doing everything in his power to be ready for this weekend,” he said. “I was in Miami with him. We had a short meeting. He was on his way to HydroWorx, which is an underwater treadmill [facility.] He’s working his butt off to be ready. He’s focused on his diet, he’s focused on his body. I’m optimistic.”

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