The Philadelphia 76ers may have opened their postseason without Joel Embiid, but they may not be without their All-Star center for much longer.
Embiid told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that there’s a “pretty good chance” he plays in Game 2 or Game 3: “If it was my decision I would play, but I can’t get back out on the court if I don’t have the OK from them, but everything has been going well.”
He has not played since suffering an orbital fracture and concussion in a collision with teammate Markelle Fultz against the New York Knicks on March 28.
With the help of Embiid, Philadelphia snapped a five-year playoff drought by going 52-30 during the regular season. That record was good enough for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
In 2017-18, the former No. 3 overall pick posted career highs in points (22.9), rebounds (11.0), assists (3.2) and field-goal percentage (48.3 percent). Those impressive numbers helped him earn his first career All-Star nod one year after being named to the NBA All-Rookie first team.
While he missed Game 1, he did do his part to get the Sixers fans fired up before tipoff at Wells Fargo Center:
RING US IN, @JoelEmbiid!
#PhilaUnite x #HereTheyCome https://t.co/eIQCklHBIz
The big fella @JoelEmbiid ringing us in! 🛎🔨 https://t.co/gVgmebqDF4
As the photos show, Embiid has been fitted for a mask that could help him return to the court sooner rather than later.
There’s no denying that the 7’0″, 250-pound big man out of Kansas makes the Sixers a better team. However, the team won its final eight games of the regular season without Embiid, entering the playoffs on a 16-game winning streak.
Philadelphia ran out of a starting lineup of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Amir Johnson in Game 1 against the Miami Heat on Saturday. It may not be long before head coach Brett Brown can reinsert Embiid back into the lineup, perhaps as early as Monday or Thursday.