Embiid says he's focused on ‘getting healthy,' not All-Star availability


Joel Embiid may very well go from All-Star reserve to starter to non-participant.

After helping the Sixers secure a fourth straight win before the break, Embiid emphasized that his health is a greater priority than any All-Star festivities. 

“That’s not where my focus is,” he said following the Sixers’ victory over the Cavs. “My focus is on getting healthy. I haven’t been healthy. I’ve been having this lingering foot issue, according to the doctors, which needs a lot of rest and staying off my feet. … The focus is on winning, especially being ready for the second half of the season and the playoffs. 

“I’m focused on winning a championship and whatever helps me get there healthy, that’s what I’m going to do. We’re going to see how it goes. Obviously, like the doctor said, I just need rest and to stay off my feet. So we’re going to see.”

If he sits out Sunday night’s All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah, Embiid would have many valid reasons.

Though he’s played in 17 of the Sixers’ last 18 games, Embiid has lately been listed as questionable before each contest. He missed four games in late November with a left mid-foot sprain and three in early January with left foot soreness. 

After playing in the 2019 All-Star Game, Embiid sat out eight games in a row because of a left knee injury that bothered him through the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. This year, he clearly wants to be available and as close to 100 percent as possible the rest of the way. 

“I’m not sure,” Embiid said when asked whether he’ll play Sunday. “I’m not healthy. I haven’t been healthy for the past three weeks or month. I was just trying to get to the All-Star break without missing more. … I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where I really need to follow the doctor’s advice. Back then, he said I should’ve been sitting for two weeks. We’ll see how the next few days go and go from there.”

Embiid’s 29 points Wednesday were a little over four below his Eastern Conference-leading average. He checked off the 10,000-point career milestone in the first quarter but then had a relatively challenging game against Jarrett Allen and the Cavs, who came into Philadelphia on a seven-game winning streak. 

Paul Reed turned in another positive performance behind Embiid and posted five points, four rebounds and two blocks in nine minutes. Embiid praised Reed’s play while also throwing in a (friendly) critique about Reed’s fouling that made Tyrese Maxey crack up in the locker next to him. 

“He’s doing what we need him to do,” Embiid said of Reed. “He’s playing hard, being active offensively and defensively. Offensively, he’s setting screens and getting us extra possessions. Defensively, he’s trying to be as aggressive as possible.

“Obviously, you’ve got to stop fouling, stop being a hacker. But he’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to get these leads and keep them.”

After a 19-point, 12-assist evening, James Harden was also appreciative of Reed’s efforts. 

“When you play hard and you do the right things, good things happen for you,” Harden said.

Harden had his bags packed soon after the Sixers’ win and was ready to roll into the break. With the 33-year-old’s run of consecutive All-Star appearances over at 10, how does he look at the time away?

“Continue to get better,” he said. “Continue to lift, work on my game and get in even better shape. Just doing the things that are necessary.

“It’s going to be good. At this point, everybody’s a little banged up, so it’ll be good for my body.”

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