Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid will not travel with the team for Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday afternoon.
He could make his way back to the court for either Game 3 or 4, however.
The MVP candidate suffered a right orbital fracture and a mild concussion when he was elbowed by Pascal Siakam during the Sixers’ blowout, Game 6 victory over the Toronto Raptors last week — an avoidable situation considering the Sixers were up 119-90 late in the fourth quarter.
After seeing a specialist on Friday, it was initially reported that he would miss at least five days due to concussion protocols.
Embiid had surgery on a left orbital fracture before in his career, but the potential Game 3 or 4 return suggests such measures won’t have to be taken, at least for the time being.
His availability is paramount for the 76ers’ survival in the playoffs, especially facing the top-seeded Heat in the second round. The center had another MVP-caliber season in 2021-22, posting 30.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game.
He averaged 26.2 points and 11.3 rebounds in Philadelphia’s first-round series against the Raptors, including 33 in Game 6.
The Eastern Conference semifinal begins on May 2 in Miami.