For those hoping to get another look at the new core of the Philadelphia 76ers coming out of All-Star break, you’ll have to wait a bit before the group is at full strength. The trade which brought Tobias Harris to town created arguably the Eastern Conference’s best starting lineup, but the Sixers will be shorthanded on Thursday night. Philly welcomes the Miami Heat to town, but center Joel Embiid has already been ruled out for this one as well as a few more games moving forward.
In turn, this means the Sixers will turn to Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, and Harris to hold down the fort. It’s also likely that Boban Marjanovic, who was acquired in the same trade which brought Harris to town, could draw the start for Embiid. Marjanovic has played in four games for his new team and is averaging 7.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 72.2 percent from the field.
The Sixers’ new-look starting five is interesting, and we’re going to break down the team’s roster and projected lineup for this game against the Heat. Before that, let’s look at the latest on Embiid’s injury and his timeline for return.
Joel Embiid’s Injury Timeline
Embiid’s injury was revealed after the All-Star game by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. He cited that Embiid will be re-evaluated in one week and is dealing with left knee soreness. The Sixers did make it known that there is no structural damage to the knee, which is obviously huge news.
Assuming this means the team will re-evaluate him a week from February 20, there’s a chance he could miss just three games (vs. Heat, vs. Trail Blazers, at Pelicans). It would point to the best-case scenario for Embiid’s return being on Thursday, February 28 in a nationally-televised matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road.
Sixers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Heat Without Joel Embiid
*Notates expected starter
C: Boban Marjanovic*, Amir Johnson
PF: Tobias Harris*, Mike Scott, Jonah Bolden
SF: Jimmy Butler*, James Ennis
SG: JJ Redick*, Jonathon Simmons
PG: Ben Simmons*, T.J. McConnell
With Embiid out, Marjanovic’s minutes may depend on how much the Heat play Hassan Whiteside, as the Sixers could have a tough time guarding him otherwise. But when Miami goes to Bam Adebayo or Kelly Olynyk, Brett Brown can opt to roll out his own smaller lineups with either Amir Johnson or Jonah Bolden at the five.
Both Jonathon Simmons and James Ennis should see decent run as well with Furkan Korkmaz being ruled out indefinitely due to a torn meniscus, per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. The guard/forward duo are new additions to the Sixers and were brought in at the trade deadline to provide depth following the initial trades.
The heavy lifting offensively will be done by Simmons, Butler, Harris, and Redick, though, and all four could log fairly heavy minutes in an important Eastern Conference matchup. Philly’s playoff positioning push begins now as they sit tied with the Boston Celtics for the No. 4 seed and just one game back of the Indiana Pacers for No. 3.