76ers' Doc Rivers Uncertain If Joel Embiid Will Return from Injury for Game 3

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2022

TORONTO, ON- APRIL 28  - Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) as the Toronto Raptors fall the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 6 and lose their first round NBA playoff series 4-2 in Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. April 28, 2022.        (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers desperately need Joel Embiid back on the floor after falling behind 0-2 against the Miami Heat, but head coach Doc Rivers didn't confirm he will return in Game 3.

"I really don't know," Rivers told reporters Wednesday.

Embiid suffered an orbital fracture and concussion in last Thursday's win over the Toronto Raptors, causing him to miss Games 1 and 2 of the second-round series against Miami.

"He looked good, as far as talking," Rivers said of Embiid. "But he's got so many steps to go through, and I don't think he's cleared any of them right now. So we just have to wait and see."

Philadelphia is scheduled to host the Heat in Game 3 on Friday.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week that Embiid could return as soon as Game 3 if he clears protocols, likely wearing a protective mask.

Embiid had already been dealing with a torn ligament in his right thumb, but he is a difference-maker whenever he is on the court.

The center led the NBA in scoring this season at 30.6 points per game, adding 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. His 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting in Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors helped the 76ers close out the first-round series.

Philadelphia hasn't been as dangerous without him, losing the first two games by a combined 30 points.

"It changes dramatically," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Embiid's impact. "You're talking about MVP talent, you know? So we'll just have to see."

If the five-time All-Star remains out, the 76ers will need a lot more from James Harden offensively while Paul Reed and DeAndre Jordan try to pick up the slack in the frontcourt.