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76ers’ Joel Embiid battling mild case of Bell’s palsy in health scare

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Joel Embiid’s push to play through a knee injury this postseason also featured another behind-the-scenes health scare.

The 76ers star has navigated what ESPN described as a mild case of Bell’s palsy, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, “causes sudden weakness in the muscles on one side of the face” — with that side appearing “to droop” and leading to difficulties with shutting that side’s eye.

“Pretty annoying with my left side of my face, my mouth and my eye,” Embiid told reporters after the 76ers’ 125-114 victory against the Knicks on Thursday in Game 3 of their first-round series.


Joel Embiid and the 76ers won Game 3 at Wells Fargo Center. Corey Sipkin for the NY Postost

“It’s been tough, but I’m not a quitter, so gotta keep fighting.”

Embiid’s condition was revealed after Philadelphia’s win that trimmed its series deficit to 2-1.

He set a playoff career high with 50 points and became the first 76ers player to reach that threshold in a postseason game since Allen Iverson in the 2003 playoffs.

The symptoms began with migraines a day or two before their play-in win against the Heat — when they clinched the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 seed to set up the first-round series with the Knicks — but at first, Embiid thought they were “nothing.”


Joel Embiid's mild case of Bell's palsy was revealed after the 76ers' Game 3 on Thursday.
Joel Embiid’s mild case of Bell’s palsy was revealed after the 76ers’ Game 3 on Thursday. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

That outlook changed, though. He knew his body wasn’t right in that Miami game, when he collected 23 points and 15 rebounds.

“Just not feeling it,” Embiid said, but ESPN reported that he “wanted to keep it private to avoid distractions for his team” in the playoffs.

The reigning MVP missed a chunk of time during the regular season while dealing with a knee injury, and it directly impacted the 76ers’ chances of securing a higher seed in the conference.

They were 31-8 with Embiid in their lineup. That record dipped to 16-27 without him.

Embiid has continued to fight through the lingering knee issue during the postseason, too. He was a game-time decision in Game 2 before combining with Tyrese Maxey — the 76ers’ other star — for 69 points in their loss to the Knicks.

And three days later, while still navigating his Bell’s palsy condition, Embiid helped the 76ers earn a victory after the series shifted back to Philadelphia.

“It’s unfortunate,” Embiid said of dealing with Bell’s palsy. “That’s the way I look at it. But that’s not an excuse. Gotta keep pushing.”

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