The Philadelphia 76ers might not be close to full health, but they'll at least have their All-Star center back for their seeding game against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. After missing Philadelphia's loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday due to an ankle injury that he suffered against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, Joel Embiid is ready to return and help his team against Toronto.
The injury occurred when Embiid fell awkwardly onto the stanchion holding up the basket after going up for a rebound against the Blazers. Embiid checked out of the game, went back to the locker room, and didn't return to the contest.
The fact that Embiid is able to get back to game action so quickly is obviously very good news for the Sixers, who are already without their other All-Star in Ben Simmons. After injuring his knee earlier on during the Sixers' seeding slate, Simmons underwent knee surgery in Philadelphia and is reportedly expected to miss the remainder of the season. With Simmons sidelined, Sixers head coach Brett Brown plans to rely heavily on Embiid on both ends of the floor.
"I think Ben was having a great defensive season. When you take that length out, that weapon out, that versatility out, I think there is more responsibility on everybody, but especially Joel," Brown said during a call with media members. "I feel like his rim protection, him being such a presence at the rim, looking to block shots, looking to defensive rebound is going to be even more required. We need him to go to an even higher level defensively."
It will be the same story on the offensive end, where the Sixers will run things through Embiid in the post more than they have in the past.
"Offensively, he needs to get as many touches as we can give him," Brown said. "I think that one of the most noticeable areas of growth is what's he been doing passing out of the post. It's probably the single thing that stands out most to me offensively, whether it's Joel or just us as a team. I like our post spacing. I like Joel's unselfishness, his ability to read where the double teams are coming from I think has been shown. ... He's going to receive a higher volume of touches."
As far as seeding is concerned, the Sixers will be locked into the sixth spot in the East with a loss either to the Raptors on Wednesday night, or against the Houston Rockets in their final seeding game on Friday. In order to move up to the fifth seed before postseason play gets underway, the Sixers would need to win both of their final games, and the Indiana Pacers to lose both of theirs. In all likelihood, the Sixers will stay at No. 6, which would mean a first-round matchup with the rival Boston Celtics.