Embiid gives details on painful plantar fasciitis he dealt with over summer


Sixers head coach Doc Rivers revealed Friday that Joel Embiid dealt with “a little plantar fasciitis” this summer.

Holding his two-year-old son Saturday night at the press conference podium following a 114-105 defeat at Wells Fargo Center to the Spurs, Embiid detailed an injury that didn’t sound little.

“It started when the team was out in L.A. out of nowhere,” he said. “I just thought it was ... whatever. Soreness. Over time, it just kept getting worse and worse and worse. And then it got to the point where I couldn’t walk and it was really painful.

“But I’m fine. There’s no need for excuses. We’ve just got to play better. ... Slow start, nothing to be concerned about. Fairly new team. We’ve got to find a way.”

For Embiid, “slow start” is now at least a less fitting description than it had been before Saturday. Last season’s NBA scoring leader raised his average to 27 by posting 40 points against San Antonio on 14-for-25 shooting. Embiid played a more effectively forceful game than in either of the Sixers’ two previous losses, drawing 15 free throws and doing damage as a roller. 

The bottom line, though, is the Sixers are 0-3 after falling to a team that used seven players 24 years old or younger. And, when asked whether the plantar fasciitis was still bothering him, Embiid’s answer didn’t seem to perfectly align with “I’m fine.”

“Still trying to work my way back,” he said. “Coming into training camp, I hadn’t done anything in like two months, so it really slowed me down. Still trying to work my way back and hopefully everything goes back to normal.”

Embiid has gone either 36 or 37 minutes in all three Sixers games so far, which does support the notion that he’s not currently hampered at anywhere near the level he recalled. Rivers changed Embiid’s usual substitution pattern against the Spurs, feeling that 12-minute stints weren’t best for a big man admittedly playing catch-up with conditioning.

Now, Rivers is prepared to sub Embiid out about six or seven minutes into both halves for a while. 

“It’s obviously not what we went into the season wanting to do,” Rivers said. “But we felt like for Joel, conditioning-wise — because he didn’t have work up until training camp — that this is a better way to play him right now. And it’s probably going to last a couple more weeks until we feel like we can get him in better shape.”

Embiid will indeed not magically be in flawless shape Monday night when the Sixers play the Pacers. Avoiding another home loss to a youthful team is the Sixers' immediate priority, though Embiid didn’t express deep concern.

He identified defense as the most important area to correct.

“We’ve just got to be better connected,” he said. “We’re not guarding the ball well, and that’s on all of us. Some of the stuff that we’re doing, we need to work on it more. Like I said, it’s a fairly new team. Like I said before the season, it’s going to take time to get everybody on the same page. We’ll be fine.”

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