MIAMI (AP) — Joel Embiid is done with Philadelphia’s latest process.
Listed as doubtful in the morning, Embiid was upgraded to probable and eventually put in the starting lineup by the 76ers for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
Embiid participated in the team’s morning shootaround, and apparently coach Brett Brown saw enough from his All-Star center to approve his return.
“We like what we have seen over the past few days,” Brown said.
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Embiid has missed Philadelphia’s last 10 games while recovering from a concussion and surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone around his left eye. He’s no longer in the NBA’s concussion protocol, and took to social media after Philadelphia’s Game 2 loss to Miami to announce that he is “sick and tired of being babied.”
Translated: Embiid was declaring himself ready to play, and now the 76ers agree. So does the NBA, in the sense that the league needed to approve the style of mask that Embiid will wear to protect his face. It’s composed of both polycarbonate and carbon-fiber material and is shaded dark but still is translucent enough to meet league guidelines.
The 76ers’ medical staff collaborated with the league’s independent medical experts on the makeup and design of the mask, all that work done with the hope that Embiid won’t be re-injured if struck in the face.
“We’re just trying to move forward in a positive way,” Brown said.
Embiid wore the mask and went through practice Wednesday, getting used to contact again. His initial playoff appearance this year will be the first postseason game of his career.
“I want Joel Embiid in this mix,” Brown said. “He has a chance to make us different. … He is as driven and as competitive as any player that I’ve been around.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Miami was prepared for the possibility that Embiid would play Thursday.
“You can’t spend too much time on an uncertainty,” Spoelstra said. “But you have to spend a little bit of time.”
Embiid averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds in 63 games this season.
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