Report: 76ers’ Star Joel Embiid Set to Return This Week

Report: 76ers’ Star Joel Embiid Set to Return This Week Jan 25, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) looks on in the first half against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The moment Philadelphia 76ers fans have been waiting for is finally about to arrive. According to multiple reports, Joel Embiid is nearing a return and expected to play this week. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Embiid’s status for Tuesday’s contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder is expected to be updated later Monday afternoon. Embiid competed in multiple five-on-five scrimmages at practice in recent days, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Embiid was forced to miss the last 29 games after suffering a knee injury in a late-January loss to the Golden State Warriors. He underwent a procedure to repair his injured left meniscus on Feb. 6. If he returns on Tuesday against the Thunder, he would have been out exactly eight weeks since having the procedure.

The Sixers have struggled in Embiid’s absence, compiling an 11-18 record since he went out against the Warriors. As a result, they have dropped to eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers have a slim shot at climbing back to the sixth seed. They are just two games behind the Indiana Pacers, but time is not on their side and Indiana has the tiebreaker via the season series. The Sixers are more likely to finish in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

Regardless of what seed the Sixers end up at, Embiid’s return to the lineup will provide a major boost. When Embiid is on the floor, the Sixers are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They sported a 26-8 record in games the big fella played in this season. Before the injury, Embiid was well on his way to another dominant campaign. He was averaging 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals per game this season.

The timing of Embiid’s return works out tremendously well for the Sixers. With seven games left on the schedule, Embiid should have plenty of time to ramp up his conditioning on the court before the beginning of the postseason. It also gives him time to start gelling with the players added at the trade deadline. Buddy Hield, Kyle Lowry and Cam Payne have never played with Embiid, although all three seem like good on-court fits.

With De’Anthony Melton and Robert Covington also both reportedly close to returning to action, the Sixers are getting fully healthy at the exact right time.

UPDATED AT 1:44 P.M. MONDAY: Embiid (left knee meniscus procedure) remains listed as out for Tuesday’s game against the Thunder, according to the 1:30 p.m. injury report. The Sixers have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to potentially change Embiid’s status against the Thunder. For now, it appears his return will have to wait until, at the earliest, Thursday against the Miami Heat.

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