When news broke late Friday night that Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers would be “out indefinitely” with a concussion and orbital fracture, it seemed that he’d miss the entire second-round series. But Sunday, Adrian Wojnarowski said that the MVP candidate could return as early as Game 3 or 4.
ESPN Sources: Joel Embiid won’t travel for Games 1 and 2 in Miami, but there’s optimism he could return as soon as either Game 3 or 4 in Philadelphia. He needs to clear concussion protocols and see doctor mid-week on his orbital fracture. More on NBA Countdown at 12:30 ET on ABC.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 1, 2022
Before Wojnarowski’s report, Jimmy Butler said that he hoped Embiid would play against his team. Although Butler has voiced his dissatisfaction with the Sixers when he played there during the 2018-19 season, he has remained friends with Embiid.
NEW: Heat’s Jimmy Butler hoping Joel Embiid will play in playoff series: ‘I feel bad for my guy’ #Heat #NBAPlayoffs #Sixers @HeraldSports @Anthony_Chiang https://t.co/zbrCsMejvP— Andre Fernandez (@FernandezAndreC) April 30, 2022
The Miami Heat will also miss Kyle Lowry, who suffered a hamstring injury in Game 4 of the Heat’s first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, for Game 1. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reported that there’s optimism Lowry will be able to play in the series.
Kyle Lowry strained his hamstring on April 22. Today is his ninth full day of recovery. There's still optimism that Lowry will be able to play in this second-round series at some point, maybe even early in the series.— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) May 1, 2022
And as for Butler, he said after practice yesterday that he expects his knee to hold up fine for Game 1 tomorrow night. The Heat’s franchise player missed the Game 5 clincher over the Hawks.
The injuries to Lowry and Embiid will be as big of an issue as any throughout this series. Miami’s defensive game plan will shift dramatically when Embiid returns. Bam Adebayo already said that the Heat would have to double him. And Miami traded for Lowry last off-season to provide leadership in playoff situations.