The most talked-about eye injury in Philadelphia sports is awaiting one final update. The Philadelphia 76ers initially ruled Joel Embiid out for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday, but there’s still a chance the All-Star center plays in Game 3.
The team upgraded Embiid from out to “doubtful” on the latest injury report at 12:30 p.m. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “there is progress that could be made to change his availability in time to play Friday.” The sticking point revolves around Embiid’s concussion test. If he clears league protocols for head injuries prior to tip-off then the MVP candidate can suit up against the Miami Heat.
Head coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Embiid did clear a concussion test and participated in Friday’s shootaround. The Sixers are still ruling him out for Game 3, but his status could change prior to tip-off at 7 p.m. Embiid continues to battle an orbital bone fracture and torn ligament in his right thumb. He’s doing “everything possible” to play, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Embiid is “determined to try and play through it” once cleared by team doctors. The Sixers’ big man will have to wear a protective mask — just as he did back in 2018 — and doesn’t mind doing it. Embiid still believes the team has a chance to win a championship this year. Shelburne wrote:
To play with this orbital fracture he’ll need to wear a protective mask, which has been custom made this week to distribute the force of any blows he might take in the game away from the exact spot on his bone that has been fractured. He will not likely need to wear goggles, as he did in 2018, sources said.
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.
If Embiid can’t play, the Sixers will be once again stuck with less-than-stellar options like DeAndre Jordan, Paul Reed, Charles Bassey, and Paul Millsap at the center spot. Reed has been the most effective of the bunch, but none of them have been close to duplicating Embiid’s effort or containing Bam Adebayo.
“The one thing Doc Rivers said was he hasn’t cleared it yet so that’s like a four-day type of thing,” said The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, “so if he was to say you know he cleared concussion protocol and now we’re trying to do some other things, it would give you more clarity on it but the fact that he hasn’t cleared it — I’m pretty sure that there’s going to be an injury report coming out shortly — but the fact that said he hasn’t cleared the injury report, to me, says a little something about it.”
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Sixers Optimistic They Can Overcome 2-0 Deficit
It’s been a struggle for Philadelphia to contend without Embiid in the lineup. They have gotten 20 combined points out of their backup center options, with no reason to believe those guys will step up in Game 3. The bigger problem for the Sixers has been their inability to knock down open shots, specifically from the three-point line.
That trend can’t continue if Doc Rivers’ squad has any hopes of evening up their best-of-seven series. The Heat holds a 2-0 series lead heading into Friday night’s game.
“We got great shots,” Rivers said, via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “Since there’s a lot of analytical people out there in the world, it was our 12th-best [shot profile] of the year, which means we didn’t make shots, but we got great shots and I believe in the guys we play on the floor that they can make them over the long haul. I thought in Game 1 we got great shots. Didn’t like them as much. But Game 2, we had a ton of open shots. Ton of open 3s.”
Sixers-Heat Release Latest Injury Report
The NBA put out their latest injury report ahead of the Sixers-Heat matchup in Game 3 on Friday. Embiid was listed “doubtful” with a facial fracture and concussion stemming from an elbow to the face he absorbed from Pascal Siakam in the last round. He was the only Sixers player with any kind of injury designation.
Meanwhile, the Heat put six players on the injury report: Tyler Herro (left ankle sprain), Kyle Lowry (left hamstring strain), Caleb Martin (left ankle strain), Max Strus (right hamstring sprain), P.J. Tucker (right calf strain), Gabe Vincent (right knee irritation). All six players are listed as questionable.