Joel Embiid update: 76ers star could return from knee injury as soon as this week, per report

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Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid is nearing a return from a knee injury, and it could come this week as the Sixers prepare for the postseason. Embiid has been sidelined since Jan. 30 with a left meniscus injury that required surgery, but Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the reigning MVP is expected to rejoin the Sixers lineup this week. 

Embiid reportedly did not participate in Tuesday’s shootaround and is listed as out for Tuesday’s game against the Thunder. 

The prospect of getting their big man back soon is obviously massive news for the Sixers, who currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference and have fallen down the standings without their franchise centerpiece. There was some thought that Embiid was nearing a return after Sixers coach Nick Nurse said last week that the star big man would join the team on the road trip in order to work out. At the time Nurse didn’t give a timetable for Embiid’s return, but it appears as though his rehab is moving at a swift enough pace for him to make a return before the end of the regular season. 

Though it’s unclear exactly when Embiid will return to the court, the Sixers’ matchups beyond Tuesday this week include the Miami Heat on Thursday, followed by a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs. 

In Embiid’s absence, the Sixers have gone just 11-18, and while only two games separate them and the No. 6 Indiana Pacers, unless they close that gap, it appears that the road to the postseason for Philly will have to start with the Play-In Tournament. But if Embiid returns healthy this, no one will want to face a Sixers team at full strength. Prior to Embiid’s injury, the Sixers had the third-best net rating in the league, and Embiid was well on his way to win the MVP for the second straight year. 

Embiid — who has played in 34 games to date — is not eligible for MVP or All-NBA honors this season thanks to the NBA’s new 65-game minimum rule, but he still leads the league in scoring at 35.3 points per game, while also averaging 11.3 rebounds and a career high 5.7 assists. The combination of him and Tyrese Maxey was amongst the best in the league, and it looked like the Sixers were primed for a postseason run.

Now that Embiid is expected to return with just two weeks left of the regular season, the Sixers should once again be considered a dangerous threat in the Eastern Conference, even if they won’t have home-court advantage. If the Sixers make it out of the Play-In Tournament, they would currently be slated to face either the top-seeded Boston Celtics or the No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks.

Looking for more NBA coverage? John Gonzalez, Bill Reiter, Ashley Nicole Moss and special guests dive deep into the league’s biggest storylines daily on the Beyond the Arc podcast.

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