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Joel Embiid reveals a potential serious health issue for him after loss to the Miami Heat

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The tough 82-game NBA season could wear on the Sixers All-Star center, because of past health problems.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After the Philadelphia 76ers 108-99 loss to the Miami Heat, Joel Embiid admitted his history of back issues continues to haunt him.

Embiid on Whiteside (1/2): “Looking at the replay it looked like I didn’t touch him. Then they called a double foul. Tried hit me in the back, which is kind of dirty because of the fact that I’ve had back problems. So we’re going to see about that. I won’t forget about that...”

Embiid on Whiteside (2/2): “But I didn’t think I touched him. But then they called a technical foul on him because obviously he’s the one that made a dirty play.”

Embiid’s comments remind me how the Boston Celtics downplayed Isaiah Thomas‘ hip problem, which turned out to be more serious than the Celtics admitted at first.

An article provides some background on Embiid’s questionable durability on dealing with long schedule and frequent road trips in the NBA.

Still, some draft analysts are concerned about Embiid’s ability to perform in the NBA due to a recent back injury. In February, Embiid suffered a lumbar stress fracture known as spondylolysis. Although recent reports say his back is doing great, worries persist about drafting a center with injury concerns No. 1 overall.

Since Tim Duncan was chosen first overall in 1997, the following centers have been selected with the first overall pick: Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown, Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut, Andrea Bargnani, Greg Oden and Anthony Davis. All of these players have suffered injuries, including hernias, knee surgeries, back surgeries, chronic foot pain and foot surgeries.

Spondylolysis isn’t a condition to be taken lightly, as its effects go past the basketball court.

When basketball players get diagnosed with spondylolysis, they must rest until they recover fully. If they resume activity too soon, they risk developing spondylolisthesis, which is a worsening of the fracture to the point that one vertebra slips forward, creating a gradual worsening of leg pain, weakness, neurological changes and the possibility of career-ending surgery.

Embiid’s youthful energy may try to hide the long-term effects of his serious condition, especially when he just played 9 games in 14 days and had to deal with the rigors of travel on road trips.

Resting Embiid puts the burden of carrying the Sixers playoff hopes on the shoulders of rookie Ben Simmons, and you know teams will put a lot of pressure on Simmons throughout the remaining games.

The Miami Heat’s playoff chase goes through the 76ers one way or the other, because if other contenders beat the Sixers, catching up to any of them becomes more difficult.

The 76ers playoff chase depends on Embiid and Simmons leading the team for last part of the season, but should health concerns become reality, then the picture for their final place in the standings appears fuzzy.

The Heat still need help in the final 16 games to make up the three game difference in the loss column, if they hope finish higher than the 7th seed.