By Dylan MacKinnon
The Sixers have clearly missed their MVP Joel Embiid. Games 1 and 2 went very poorly for them with the big man back home in Philly. Things looked bleak yesterday for his return when it was reported he was still out because he had not cleared concussion protocol yet. But the Sixers received promising news this afternoon. As of now, Embiid has cleared concussion protocol.
Now, this does not mean he is going to play. The orbital bone injury will not require surgery, but that does not mean he will be able to play through it. He will likely go through warmups to see how he feels. But Embiid seems determined to play through the fractured orbital bone, as reported by Ramona Shelburne earlier today.
“Embiid is determined to try and play through it once he’s medically cleared from the NBA’s concussion protocols because, as sources close to him said, he feels the Sixers still have a chance to win a title this season.”- Via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
If he does return he will have quite a hole to help dig the Sixers out of. Only 31 teams in NBA history have won after falling behind 0-2 in a series. With that said, the Bucks did it twice last year on their road to winning the Finals. They came back from 0-2 in the second round to the Nets. And then they also fell behind 0-2 in the Finals to the Suns, before winning the next 4 games. Having Embiid would go a long way toward turning the tides. Even if he is at less than 100%.
To say it has been a struggle for the Sixers at center without Embiid is an understatement. DeAndre Jordan has been a disaster there. Bam Adebayo is shooting 90% when defended by Jordan. Meanwhile, Paul Reed has given them some decent minutes. But his lack of experience and tendency to rack up fouls makes it hard to keep him on the floor for too long. They have also tried to play Small Ball, with some positive results. But doing that over long periods is not sustainable. Even a limited Embiid would at least provide a strong presence at center, on both offense and defense.
We may not know his status until just before game time. The orbital fracture could still keep him from playing. But if he is cleared to play with that, he should be good to go tonight. Game 3 tips tonight at 7 pm. Our coverage begins at 6:50 with the pregame show hosted by Devon Givens. Tom McGinnis is on the call.