AMHERST, Mass. — Excitement.
That is the only sentiment Joel Embiid felt in describing the feeling of his NBA debut.
Embiid is playing his first game Tuesday night in the Sixers' preseason opener against the Celtics. He has rehabbed his way back from two foot surgeries in as many years. Now he is ready for the career he set out to have when the Sixers drafted him third overall in 2014.
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“Pretty excited,” Embiid said pregame. “Can’t wait to get out there. All the hard work I’ve put in is finally paying off.”
Embiid will be restricted to 12 minutes. Brett Brown plans to utilize them in three- to four-minute spurts. The head coach does not intend to limit what Embiid does basketball-wise on the court, whether it is dunking or taking a three-point shot.
For Embiid, it is not about the final stat line.
“It doesn’t matter if I don’t score, or it doesn’t matter if I don’t grab a rebound,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I don’t block a shot. I just want to get back on the court and play.”
Embiid understands the anticipation Sixers fans have for his debut. He has seen the tweets on social media and knows there is a buzz. He feels it too.
“[I want to] just have fun with my teammates, play as a team and learn how to play with each other,” he said. “It’s basketball, you’re supposed to have fun on the court and that’s what I’m going to be doing.”