Joel Embiid avoids reinjuring left knee after thunderous alley-oop in Knicks-Sixers

Joel Embiid exited the game after he landed awkwardly on his left knee.
New York Knicks, Philadelphia Sixers, Joel Embiid
New York Knicks, Philadelphia Sixers, Joel Embiid / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In early February, Joel Embiid underwent surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee. In his seventh game back, he initially appeared to re-injure the same knee in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series between the New York Knicks and Sixers.

Embiid was listed as questionable before the game, which was expected. He wasn't as explosive in Philadelphia's Play-In Tournament win over Miami, but he looked like a different player in the first half against New York. Embiid posted 18 points (6-of-11), five rebounds, and two assists in 16 minutes before he exited the game.

Late in the second quarter, the reigning MVP threw an alley-oop to himself off the backboard and landed awkwardly on his left knee. He laid on the floor in pain before he gingerly walked off the floor and headed for the locker room.

Joel Embiid returns to Knicks-Sixers after landing awkwardly on left knee

Listen. Was it the best idea for Embiid to throw down a one-handed dunk when he is only at 70-80 percent after returning from knee surgery? No. Still, that's no reason for Knicks fans to wish ill will on him. Luckily, the big man was back on the floor for the start of the second half, but it's worth noting that so far in the third quarter, Embiid doesn't look as comfortable as he did in the first half.

A sidelined Embiid would've drastically changed the rest of the series. The Sixers are 31-8 in games played with the reigning MVP this season and 16-27 in games without him.

Philadelphia's entire game plan will change if he has to miss even one game, which could happen even though he returned. Tyrese Maxey will have to shoulder a higher offensive load, and the team's role players (like Nic Batum) will have to play lights out for the Sixers to have a chance to keep the series competitive.

Let's be clear, though. Just because Embiid appeared to tweak his surgically repaired knee doesn't mean the Knicks now have an easier path to the second round. The second New York overlooks its opponent will be the same second that Philadelphia will go on a run. You know Tom Thibodeau won't let that happen!

Here's to hoping Embiid's able to play for the rest of the series.