76ers’ Joel Embiid on brink of return after injury

The 76ers play the Thunder on Tuesday

By Web Desk
April 01, 2024
Embiid has been out since January 30 with a left meniscus injury. - Reuters.

Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid is nearing a return and is expected to play this week, the Athletic reported on Monday

Embiid, 30, has been out since January 30 with a left meniscus injury. The 76ers play the Thunder on Tuesday, and Embiid’s status for that game is expected to be known later today.

The 7-footer’s return will produce a major shakeup in the bottom half of the NBA playoff standings in the Eastern Conference.

Entering Monday, Philadelphia was eighth in the East, two games behind the sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers, a game-and-a-half behind the Miami Heat for the No. 7 seed and four games ahead of the Chicago Bulls, who is ninth.

The Nos. 7-10 seeds participate in the Play-In Tournament to determine the final two playoff spots in each conference.

When Embiid got injured, the 76ers were 29-17 and in fifth place in the East.

With Embiid sidelined, Philadelphia went 11-18 and slipped into a Play-In spot.

The 76ers have seven games left and only have to make up two games to be the sixth seed in the East and avoid the Play-In Tournament altogether.

The biggest game left on Philadelphia’s schedule is Thursday against the Heat.

That game in Miami could determine who hosts the 7/8 game in the Play-In Tournament if Philly and Miami both can’t secure the sixth seed.

The Sixers were four-and-a-half games behind the Knicks for the No. 4 seed and five games back of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 3 seed, though there’s likely not enough time for Philadelphia to secure home-court advantage for a first-round playoff series — and no guarantee they’d win enough games anyway.

Before his injury, Embiid was having another MVP-caliber season.

The seven-time All-Star was averaging 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.

The 76ers will need that level of play from Embiid again to jump out of the Play-In field and make a playoff run.