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Sixers’ Joel Embiid ‘not even close’ to full recovery following bout with COVID-19

Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid played outstanding in Monday night’s 127-124 overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets, and the dominant performance came with him not feeling at full health.

After scoring 43 points, pulling down 15 boards and dishing out seven assists in the victory, Embiid admitted that he is still experiencing lingering aftereffects from testing positive for COVID-19 last month.

“I’m not even close to [100 percent]. I’m still feeling it,” Embiid said postgame, via CBS Sports. “I get tired easily, feel pretty weak. But every single day [I’m] slowly getting better. So I just got to keep pushing myself. My teammates, they push me. They want me to be making all the plays offensively and defensively, so as long as I got that trust I’m still going to keep pushing.” 

Embiid originally tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 8. The four-time All-Star missed nine games total before returning to the lineup on Nov. 27, and the 76ers went 2-7 in his absence. Philadelphia has since gone 3-2 in his return.

Following the Sixers’ 88-87 setback against the Boston Celtics last Wednesday, Embiid essentially said the same thing about his recovery from COVID-19 by suggesting it will take time.

“I would never use it as an excuse but obviously I think it’s going to take me awhile to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that stuff,” Embiid said after going 3-for-17 shooting against Boston, per ESPN. “But every single day I got to keep working hard, and keep getting better.”

Embiid is still averaging 28.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in the five games since he came back from the COVID list.

The long-term effects of contracting COVID-19, especially when it comes to athletes in peak physical form, remain unknown. However, Celtics star Jayson Tatum is one of a handful of NBA players who have experienced significant challenges in their recovery from COVID-19.

Given Embiid’s standout performance in Monday’s win — which featured the big man going 15-of-20 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line in 40-plus minutes of action — the hope is he’s getting closer to 100% by the day.

In the interim, Philadelphia (13-11) will attempt to make it three straight victories when the team faces the Hornets again on Wednesday night.