Friday, June 21 2024

Joel Embiid‘s return from injury hasn’t gone as expected, as he’s been on-and-off the courts ever since he recovered. Even though Philadelphia are the hottest team in the league right now, as they’ve won their last eight games in a row, the team wasn’t able to qualify directly to the NBA Playoffs and will now have to fight off the Heat for a postseason berth.

While both squads prepare for their Play-in clash on Wednesday night in Philly, everyone is expecting the reigning MVP to be back in business. The Sixers big man first returned from a left lateral meniscus injury on April 2, but missed his team’s win on Sunday against the Nets.

The past Friday against the Magic, he limped off the court after a driving layup. He then returned for the second half with no issues, but eventually the coaches realised he should rest for the regular-season finale.

With the Miami matchup coming up, coach Nick Nurse assured he should be back and ready for action on Wednesday. “Listen, he did everything at practice yesterday,” he said. “We just decided, out of caution, to hold him. He’ll be ready to go.”

However, he couldn’t say the same thing for De’Anthony Melton. “I’ve always had concern with him,” the tactician shared. “I think it’s a tough deal. It’s kind of the second time we’ve gone through holding him out, trying to treat him, getting him to a place where he thinks he can play. He played a couple games, then he went out again for a long stretch. We bring him back, he plays one game, and then he’s out again. I just think it’s very difficult.

“I think we’re in the same situation. They’re going to continue to treat him, try to get him better. We’re hoping for a long run here, so there’s still always time as this goes to get him back and have him be a factor in this thing. But it is concerning.”

Nevertheless, Nurse wasn’t able to guarantee Melton’s return. “I don’t want to say either way,” the coach insisted, “but I would imagine two things: 1. He has probably a bit of a journey to get there for Wednesday. Some things have got to go well. And 2. He hasn’t played much. So it’s not time to be working guys back into the fold, right? But as a series goes on — if we’re fortunate enough to get into one — and as time goes on, you never know.”

Coach Nurse doesn’t believe KJ Martin and Robert Covington will recover from injury during their playoff run

Other than Embiid and Melton, the 76ers camp has other players in recovery. However, coach Nick Nurse isn’t optimistic about their return, as Robert Covington’s left knee bone bruise and KJ Martin’s left great toe contusion aren’t expected to be healthy in the coming months.

When asked about their chances of returning during the playoffs, their coach was clear. “No,” said the Sixers tactician. “I don’t think so. He just hasn’t made enough progress. We did get him on the court a couple times last week. He just hasn’t made enough progress in being able to move well enough without pain.”

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Even if Embiid doesn’t make his way back to compete in the Play-in, Tyrese Maxey has been leading the pack in his absence. The young star posted an impressive display during their only matchup against the Heat without the reigning MVP, as he dropped 37 points and handed out 11 assists on April 4.

“We were kind of in control of our own destiny,” Maxey shared. “We had to win games before. That’s kind of the position that we put ourselves in. That’s OK. I keep saying that for us, our main goal was to be stepping in the right direction come playoff time. I think we’re doing that.”

Source: Basketball Insider

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