MIAMI — Joel Embiid has started his return-to-play process.
The 76ers center is sidelined in the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Miami Heat with an orbital fracture near his right eye and a concussion. He’s not expected to return until Game 3 or 4 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Aside from the fracture, Embiid has to clear concussion protocol in order to play.
“I know he did something yesterday, but not much,” Doc Rivers said Tuesday. “And I know he’s feeling a lot better. I don’t want to give false hope, either. So I’ll just stop there.”
Typically, a player has to be free of concussion symptoms for 24 hours to begin the process to return to play.
The process involves several steps: from riding a stationary bike at an elevated heart rate to running on a treadmill to on-court individual drills to a team workout. A neurological examination is performed after each step, and the player must be symptom free to move to the next step.
There’s no clear return timeline from concussion protocol because of the symptom-free requirement. But the timetable could be four days after becoming symptom free, if there’s no setback.
Embiid must also be cleared by a doctor to play with his fracture. He’s meeting with a specialist this week. But there’s some optimism that he’ll be able to play when the series heads back to Philly for Game 3 on Friday or Game 4 on Sunday.
The Sixers suffered a 106-92 loss Monday night at FTX Arena in Game 1. The team will play Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Embiid suffered a fracture and concussion when he absorbed an elbow from Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam on Thursday in the Sixers’ 132-97 Game 6 victory, which clinched the series.