After days of concern regarding MVP finalist Joel Embiid's status for the Philadelphia 76ers' second-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, the team announced that its All-Star big man is starting in Game 1 on Sunday. Head coach Doc Rivers previously said Embiid was a game-time decision, and clearly everything went right in pregame warmups for him to be available.
Embiid suffered a small meniscus tear in his right knee in the first round of the playoffs, and underwent treatment to rehab from the injury, but there was legitimate concern regarding if he would be ready to play in the first game of this series. He suffered the injury in the Sixers' Game 4 loss in the first round against the Washington Wizards. He left late in the first quarter after taking a hard fall on a drive to the basket where he went up toward the rim and was blocked by Robin Lopez. Embiid came down hard on his right heel and then fell onto his back. He spent the entirety of the second quarter of that game back in the locker room, and at halftime he was ruled out by the Sixers for the remainder of the game with right knee soreness. He then sat out for Game 5 as the Sixers closed out the series.
You can see the play where the injury occurred below:
Although Philadelphia managed to carry on without Embiid for a game in the first round, having him in the lineup is obviously the best possible outcome for this championship contending team. However, just because Embiid is back in the starting lineup doesn't mean he's exactly 100 percent. We'll have to wait and see how he's able to perform on his knee against the Hawks to tell if he's playing at the MVP-level he's been operating at this entire season, or if he's still hampered from that meniscus tear.