Joel Embiid is a go.
The 76ers star will play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat. He was cleared to play after participating in a 15-minute pregame warmup. This comes after Embiid cleared concussion protocol and participated in Friday morning’s shootaround. At that time, he been upgraded from out to doubtful.
The MVP finalist suffered a concussion and orbital fracture near his right eye when he received an elbow from Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam in the Sixers’ Game 6 victory to clinched the first-round series.
“Hopefully, he plays,” Tyrese Maxey said following Friday’s shootaround. “If he plays, great. If he doesn’t play, he doesn’t play. And we just prepare as [it is] another game, and a game that we have to win.”
The Sixers trail 2-0 in the the best-of-seven series.
In addition to the orbital fracture, Embiid is dealing with a torn ligament in his right hand.
The Sixers are 6-10 in games without him this season, including the postseason. If available, his presence will provide a big lift.
Embiid’s play was a major difference in the first-round elimination of the Raptors. He averaged 26.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 0.8 blocks in the series. He averaged 29.0 points and 12.2 rebounds in the four victories and 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two losses.
Even that disparity is a bit misleading as Embiid produced 31-, 33- and 33-point performances in the Sixers’ final three victories.
Without him, the Sixers have made just 14 of 64 three-point attempts and have been outrebounded, 91-71, in the first two games of the conference semifinals.
The Sixers continue to play in the second-round series against Miami Heat. Join Inquirer sports columnist Mike Sielski and Sixers beat reporters Gina Mizell and Keith Pompey as they discuss the impact of Joel Embiid’s injury and how the series’ move to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4 might help Doc Rivers and Co.