Nick Nurse addresses Joel Embiid’s Bell’s Palsy, chippy play from Game 3

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Philadelphia 76ers came away with a pivotal, 125-114, Game 3 win over the New York Knicks on Thursday thanks to the heroics of Joel Embiid. The big fella put up 50 points on 13-for-19 shooting and 19-for-21 from the free-throw line.

Afterward, he discussed dealing with Bell’s Palsy which is affecting the muscles on the left side of his face. He admitted it has been tough for him to see at times. That means he is battling through not only that issue, but also is still recovering from the meniscus injury in his left knee.

Coach Nick Nurse was repeatedly asked about Embiid’s eye issue in the past, but Embiid wanted it to remain private, so Nurse respected his wishes. Now that it’s out in the open, Nurse addressed the issue.

“So basically, there’s kind of the daily check in on him,” Nurse said on Friday. “Just to make sure if he’s available or not and that’s kinda always the answer that I’m trying to get to. Obviously, he kinda had this — I kinda consider a personal thing and I just was always just wondering where he was and, obviously, you know it’s affecting him, but not to the point where he can’t see and he can’t play.”

To Embiid’s credit, he is putting his body on the line at the moment for the city of Philadelphia and wants to push through to lead the Sixers. Nurse waits for the daily updates from the medical team.

“That’s where I’m always at,” Nurse continued. “There’s a lot of other people working to see where they’re at and they gotta get the information to me. He’s obviously dealing with a lot, but he’s obviously playing through it.”

Considering Embiid’s dealing with all that and still dropping 50 points in a playoff game, Nurse was impressed: His eyes grew wide and he said “absolutely” when asked about that.

On the flip side, there was a great deal of chippiness in Game 3. Embiid was called for a flagrant-one foul in the first quarter when he grabbed Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson’s leg when Embiid was in an awkward position on the floor. One could have argued it was a flagrant-two and should have led to an ejection.

As a coach, Nurse understands the stakes as the series continues to grow more physical.

“I think about every time these two teams play each other — regular season or playoffs — it’s a rivalry, man,” Nurse stated. “It’s intense. It’s got history. It’s physical. Now, it’s the playoffs on top of it, right? As far as did I say ‘Hey calm down’? No. I think they were kinda isolated incidents. It seemed like they happened right on top of each other there for a bit. They just happened, but it’s physical, man. You never know when there’s gonna be a real physical play in that game. It just so happened to be early.”

Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire