76ers star Joel Embiid confirms Bell’s palsy diagnosis after 50-point game vs. Knicks: ‘It’s been tough’

When the Philadelphia 76ers’ first-round playoff series vs. the New York Knicks began, all eyes were on Joel Embiid’s surgically repaired knee and his overall conditioning level after he’d only been back for six games following a two-month absence.

As the series (which the Knicks lead 2-1 after Philly’s Game 3 win on Thursday) has progressed, however, attention has increasingly shifted to Embiid’s face. Specifically, the left side of his face, which has been visibly drooping, and his left eye, which hasn’t been blinking.

In his postgame interview on Thursday, Embiid confirmed that he has been dealing with, and has been treated for, a case of Bell’s palsy for the last week-plus, since a few days before Philadelphia’s Play-In victory over the Miami Heat last Tuesday.

Joel Embiid confirmed that he has had a case of Bell’s palsy over the last week-plus. He said it began 1-2 days before the Play-In game against the Heat. He had migraines. It has affected the left side of his face and mouth.

Embiid: “It’s been tough… It’s unfortunate.” pic.twitter.com/0EOPWlAGXx

— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) April 26, 2024
In a previous report before Embiid spoke, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted that Embiid had been trying to keep the condition private so as to avoid a distraction for the Sixers, but as this has become increasingly visible to even casual observers, it was going to be hard to keep it under wraps.

Here is a good explanation of what Bell’s palsy is and how it’s affecting Embiid from Dr. Brian Sutterer, who has been calling attention to Embiid’s condition for the past few days.

The good news for the Sixers is despite the Bell’s palsy diagnosis and the surgically repaired knee, Embiid is playing fantastic. He was particularly brilliant in Game 3, when he became the 13th player in NBA history to score 50 points in a playoff game.

Embiid finished with 50 on the dot to go with eight rebounds and four assists. He made 13 of his 19 shots, including five 3-pointers, while marching to the line for 21 free throws.

As well as Embiid played on Thursday, there’s a strong case to be made that he should’ve been ejected from the game for this blatantly flagrant foul on Mitchell Robinson, who limped his way through the rest of the first half and was unable to return in the second half.

Joel Embiid received a Flagrant 1 after this foul on Mitchell Robinson 😳 pic.twitter.com/2ygeQh8gMG

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 26, 2024
It was one of several plays by Embiid that erred on the side of flopping and sometimes outright dangerous.

After the way Game 2 ended, with the league admitting in its Last Two-Minute Report that officials screwed up the sequence that led to New York winning in absolutely wild fashion, it wasn’t all that surprising that the whistle went Philadelphia’s way on Thursday. Embiid took more free throws by himself than the Knicks did as a team.

But you know what they say: bad calls even out. Theoretically. So the Sixers get the raw end of the deal in Game 2 and Embiid gets to stay in Game 3 when he probably should’ve been tossed. And now we’ve got a series. Let’s just now hope that Embiid’s latest reported ailment is on its way to healing.

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