Perhaps the latest injury is just another test thrown into the hero’s path, but Philadelphia fans, at least, are tired of the drama in this Sixers season.

It began with the epic standoff between the Sixers and Ben Simmons, but out of the wreckage of that fiasco emerged a new Joel Embiid. He was willing to take on more responsibility on court and off, mentoring younger players, shouldering the scoring load when needed, welcoming and sharing the spotlight with James Harden when that trade finally arrived.

This new maturity met more obstacles in the playoffs, namely the scrappy Raptors and a Game 3 thumb ligament injury to Embiid. Yet even as the center and his teammates overcame those issues, fate again had a plot twist waiting with a Pascal Siakam elbow that fractured the orbital bone near Embiid’s eye and caused a mild concussion.

Now the Sixers start a tough series against the Miami Heat without Embiid. Will they rise to meet the latest challenge?

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Tell us in which game of the Heat series you expect Embiid to rejoin the Sixers: sports.daily@inquirer.com

Early Birds

Nakobe Dean showed up all dressed up for the NFL draft in Las Vegas expecting to be selected in the first round. As it turned out, the Eagles might have gotten the steal of the draft when the Georgia linebacker fell all the way to the third round because of injury concerns. Beat writer Jeff McLane reports that sources from other teams said there was concern that shoulder and knee injuries were chronic.

Dean could go boom or bust, but initially, there is optimism that this pick will work well for the Eagles. Beat writer Josh Tolentino has Dean as his favorite pick for the Eagles in this draft. Our draft expert EJ Smith also gave the Dean selection an A-, and the Eagles received good grades overall.

Extra Innings

James Norwood grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, attending games at Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium with his baseball-loving father, Mark. So it was always going to be emotional when the Phillies’ recently acquired reliever finally played in his first game in New York against the Mets or the Yankees. And then, last month, Mark Norwood died of heart failure. He was 74. Imagine the emotions, then, when James, 28, not only faced the Mets on Saturday night at Citi Field but recorded three outs in the sixth inning and picked up the win — the first of his 35-game major-league career.

Rosters across baseball will shrink from 28 players to 26 on Monday. Which Phillies are candidates to be sent down?

The Phillies wasted four homers, including two by Kyle Schwarber, in a 10-6 loss to the Mets on Sunday night.

Next: After an off day on Monday, the Phillies open a six-game homestand beginning with a 6:45 p.m. game Tuesday against the Texas Rangers (NBCSP).

Off the Dribble

Injuries have been a major plotline in these NBA playoffs. We’ve seen Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and more stars suffer injuries that led to seismic shifts in strategy for teams.

That story shaped the experiences of the 76ers and Miami Heat more than most, and the theme will continue as they begin their Eastern Conference semifinal series, with Kyle Lowry out for Game 1 with an injured hamstring and Joel Embiid set to miss at least Games 1 and 2 with a concussion and orbital fracture near his right eye.

How should Doc Rivers proceed without Embiid? David Murphy has his ideas.

Next: The Sixers and Heat play Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at 7:30 p.m. Monday at FTX Arena in Miami (TNT).

On the Fly

The 2021-22 season was a disaster for the Flyers, but what exactly went wrong?

In short, a lot of things. The Inquirer’s Olivia Reiner and Giana Han assess the team’s biggest flaws and recap what was a season from hell for the Flyers.

Fleet Street

All Nashville SC and their fans wanted was to kick off the team’s era in brand-new GEODIS Park with a win. The Union came expecting a full crowd of fervent fans and hoping to play spoiler to those plans.

The Union managed to not only score the game’s first goal, but also, in doing so, got striker Mikael Uhre his initial MLS tally. Union fans hope many more will come.

Worth a Look

On This Date

In 1908, Philadelphia’s own Jack Norworth (born John Godfrey Knauff) delivered to the U.S. Copy Office “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” to apply for its copyright. Norworth, a vaudeville performer and songwriter whose father was a choir director at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, wrote the lyrics to the song. In its original form it is longer than the well-known chorus. Albert Von Tilzer wrote the music. Neither had ever seen a professional baseball game at the time, and Norworth would not attend one until 32 years later. Many baseball fans traditionally sing the song during the seventh inning stretch, so those lyrics written over a hundred years ago are among the best-known in the country.

Last year, Rick Astley recorded a version especially for the Phillies.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Jeff McLane, EJ Smith, Josh Tolentino, Jonathan Tannenwald, Mike Sielski, Keith Pompey, Marcus Hayes, David Murphy, Gina Mizell, Scott Lauber, Alex Coffey, Olivia Reiner, Giana Han, Matt Breen, Vinny Vella, and Isabella DiAmore.