The Philadelphia 76ers have missed All-Star center Joel Embiid in a big way during their two opening losses to the Miami Heat in the second round. Embiid is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion and broken orbital bone against the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the first round last Thursday. Currently Embiid is listed as out for Game 3 in Philadelphia on Friday, but the star center cleared concussion protocol on Friday and participated in the team’s shootaround, according to The Athletic. Furthermore, Shams Charania reports there is optimism the big man will return Friday night, and is getting fitted for masks that feel comfortable and will protect his face.
This news comes after Sixers coach Doc Rivers said on Tuesday that the big man is doing “a lot better,” but added that he didn’t want to provide any “false hope.” Rivers’ post-game update after Wednesday night’s Game 3 wasn’t much more optimistic.
“He looked good, as far as talking,” Rivers said. “But he’s got so many steps to go through, and I don’t think he’s cleared any of them right now. So we just have to wait and see.”
Although Embiid has missed the first two games of this series, and could potentially miss the third game as well, there’s been internal hope within the Sixers that he’ll be able to return to action at some point in the series. How much optimism remains, though, is unclear. During Wednesday’s broadcast, TNT’s Chris Haynes reported that Embiid was only just able to start using a cellphone again as the brightness of it was bothering him in his post-concussion state.
Embiid has had a rough postseason when it comes to injury issues. Prior to suffering the concussion and broken bone in his face, the MVP candidate was already playing through a torn ligament in his right thumb that will require surgery this offseason. Embiid vowed to play through that injury, and is likely eager to return to the court.
Embiid suffered the injury to his face late in the fourth quarter of Game 6 against Toronto after being elbowed by Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. You can see the play below:
The Sixers don’t appear to have much of a chance against the Heat without their best player, so the sooner Embiid can get back out on the court for Philadelphia, the better.