Embiid's offseason conditioning was stalled by plantar fasciitis, Rivers says

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CAMDEN, N.J. — Doc Rivers added a significant item Friday to the big picture of Joel Embiid’s health.

According to the Sixers’ head coach, Embiid’s offseason conditioning was limited by plantar fasciitis. 

“He had a little plantar fasciitis before the season started — before training camp — and that took him off his conditioning program,” Rivers said. “And so he’s back on that. But listen, he’s playing with the right intentions. He just didn’t play well, and that’s OK, too. That’s going to happen. We’ve still got to win those games.”

Rivers later reiterated that Embiid’s plantar fasciitis occurred before training camp and that the MVP runner-up is not bothered by it now. 

Embiid's performance Thursday night was indeed substandard as the Sixers fell to 0-2 with a home loss to the Bucks. He missed 15 of 21 field-goal attempts and, after an 11-point first quarter, went scoreless in the second half. 

Upon reviewing the film, Rivers didn’t mind the large majority of Embiid’s attempts. 

“Joel had 21 shots. Sixteen of them we will take all night,” Rivers said. “They just didn’t go in.” 

In May, the Sixers announced that Embiid underwent procedures to address injuries to his right thumb and left index finger. He also suffered a right orbital fracture and concussion last postseason. 

At media day, Embiid said he was “feeling great” and called himself “healthy, ready to go, ready to compete.” He joked that he was “in bed all summer.”

Following the Sixers’ final preseason game on Oct. 12, he gave a less sunny review.

“I’m feeling OK,” Embiid said. “I’m still working my way back. I’ve had an on-and-off summer as far as being able to really do stuff on the basketball court. But I’ve got four, five days to be ready, and I’ll be ready.”

Embiid did not speak to reporters Thursday night. 

Moving forward, it sounds like Rivers is leaning toward altering the Sixers’ rotation to adapt to Embiid’s conditioning. Embiid played the entire opening quarter against Milwaukee and the first 11:35 of the second half. 

“The No. 1 thing for Joel is just trying to change his minute allocation early,” Rivers said. “We don’t like that, because we wanted to go with a different type of rotation. But right now we probably have to do it differently, just to keep him so he’s running at a higher speed.” 

Rivers stressed that he’s confident Embiid will return to his usual form. 

“I’m the least worried about Joel, probably,” he said. “He didn’t play well. And that’s OK; that’s going to happen. He’s got to get his rhythm, his conditioning. All that has to get better, but it will. So I’m not concerned with that. I think if we can get Joel those shots he had last night every night, most of the time we’re going to be very happy about the outcome. 

“The only thing I told our guys is, ‘OK, that happens. You’ve still got to win the game.’ And I said, ‘James, Joel, if you go 0 for 20, what else can you do to help us win?’ We can’t ever let the misses affect how we play through the other part of our games.”

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