After clearing the NBA’s concussion protocol earlier Friday morning, Philadelphia 76ers center and MVP-candidate Joel Embiid, playing with an orbital fracture plus a fractured finger, will make his highly-anticipated return to Game 3 of the 2022 second-round series against the Miami Heat, Chris Haynes reported Friday.
For the last 24-48 hours, speculation arose about whether Embiid would play or not. He was officially listed as “out” on Thursday’s injury report, but hope was that he would still try to clear multiple hurdles in order to play. The Heat are currently up 2-0 in the series, and the Sixers have struggled to fashion quality play in their MVP candidate’s absence, so a return would be paramount to at least have a chance in the series.
Embiid was upgraded to doubtful before Friday’s Game 3, but was able to clear such protocols to officially suit up and play. Though Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said that Embiid might be on a minutes restriction because his conditioning isn’t up to par, compared to usual.
Sixers star Joel Embiid will return for Game 3 vs. Miami tonight, sources tell ESPN. Doc Rivers said he could be limited in minutes, because of minimal conditioning in the past week.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 6, 2022
Embiid, who averaged a league-leading 30.6 points and 11.7 rebounds during the regular season, will be wearing with a black mask, that was fitted for him, to protect his fracture.
More Joel Embiid warming up with the mask on. pic.twitter.com/OSzXHqfD8f— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) May 6, 2022
Miami also got good news Friday, as Heat point guard and proverbial “QB1” Kyle Lowry plans to play after missing the last four games — dating back to first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks — with a hamstring injury. Per head coach Erik Spoelstra, he won’t be on a minutes restriction, though the Heat will have “a plan” for playing Lowry.
As expected, both Lowry and Embiid will move into their respective starting lineups — Embiid for DeAndre Jordan and Lowry for Gabe Vincent.
In the words of Erik Spoelstra: “We have enough.” That’s what I’m pretending both teams echoed heading into tonight, a game that could evidently decide the series.
Let’s see what happens.