Joel Embiid said he was bothered by his knee problem after struggling on the floor as the Philadelphia 76ers squandered a lead in their 103-100 loss against the Atlanta Hawks.
Embiid appeared to be hampered by the meniscus strain he sustained in the Eastern Conference first-round win over the Washington Wizards, missing a close-range layup 8.8 seconds from the end with the 76ers trailing the Hawks 101-100 on Monday.
NBA MVP runner-up Embiid went 0-for-12 shooting the second half, having spent some time in the locker room, as the Hawks – overturning an 18-point lead – rallied past the top-seeded 76ers to level the Eastern Conference semi-final matchup.
Embiid, who finished with 17 points and a playoff career-high 21 rebounds, told reporters post-game: "Great look. Great look. I just didn't have the lift.
"Thought I got fouled, too. But usually I would go up, especially for a bucket like that, try to dunk it.
"Try to get fouled and get an and-one. But ... not being able to jump for obvious reasons. ... It's tough."
Game 5 Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/TmWE5qOBlF— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) June 15, 2021
Philadelphia's Embiid sustained a small meniscus tear in Game 4 of the first-round series against the Wizards, returning for the semi-final opener with the fifth-seeded Hawks.
"I guess it's already known," Embiid – the first Sixers player to have 20 or more rebounds in a postseason game since Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo in 2001 – said. "Don't need to explain ... I'm just trying to do the best I can.
"I thought in the beginning of the game, when I went back to the locker room, I just felt like I didn't have it tonight," added Embiid, who became the eighth 76ers player ever with at least 20 career double-doubles in the playoffs.