KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Brett Brown admitted to being concerned about Joel Embiid’s right hand – just not as concerned as one would think.
“I don’t have concern it’s going to restrict him from playing against the Boston Celtics,” the 76ers coach said Friday. Embiid was whacked twice in the first half Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors.
He had his hand evaluated at halftime and the X-rays were negative. The three-time All-Star center did not play in the second half. The Sixers said it was because he was scheduled to play limited minutes.
Embiid was a game-time decision Friday night against the Houston Rockets. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series against the Celtics is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday.
“I don’t have concern that it’s going to minimize his effectiveness,” Brown said. “As it relates to tonight, I believe I understand there will be a game-time decision about his availability tonight. But going forward, I don’t.”
According to the NBA injury report, Embiid was listed as questionable for that game because of left ankle soreness. He injured his ankle in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, Embiid played only 5 minutes, 42 seconds in that game.
But he was cleared to play after a short workout.
Semi Ojeleye is far from surprised.
Back at SMU, he knew then-teammate Shake Milton was destined for the NBA. That’s why he wasn’t shocked by the impressive numbers the Sixers point guard put up before the NBA shutdown. Nor is he surprised that Milton will have a key role against Ojeleye’s Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
“I knew what he could do already,” the reserve forward said. “I seen him hoop in college. Ever since he stepped on campus and I got there a year before him, he’s big time. You could see it every time.”
That’s why Ojeleye is glad the 2018 second-round pick, who spent much of his time in the NBA G League, found his spot with the Sixers.
Milton went into the game against the Houston Rockets on Friday night averaging 9.4 points while shooting 42.6 % on three-pointers.
He scored a career-high 39 points in a six-point road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1. He made 7 of 9 threes, including his first five, to go with five assists. In the process, Milton tied the NBA record for the most consecutive made three-pointers with 13 over three games.
Meanwhile, Ojeleye averaged 3.4 points and 14.7 minutes in 69 appearances with six starts this season.
“It’s going to be great [going against Shake],” he said. “We had our battles in college, in practice every day.”
Olejeleye is happy to see his former teammate play well.