The Philadelphia 76ers looked fantastic in Game 1, blowing out the Miami Heat by 27 points despite not having their star big man, Joel Embiid, in the lineup. Game 2, however, did not go their way, as the Heat turned up the defensive intensity, got a huge game from Dwyane Wade and escaped with a 113-103 victory to even the series.
Embiid was once again not in the lineup. Despite having cleared the concussion protocol, the Sixers did not clear Embiid to return to the court. That fact seemed to frustrate the Sixers' center, as after the game he posted a profane message on his Instagram story saying he was tired of "being babied."
Not being able to be on the court when your team is in the playoffs for the first time in your career is obviously frustrating, and it seems that sitting out playoff games, combined with the tough loss, got the best of Embiid. It's no wonder that the big man was upset following the loss, but the Sixers are doing what's best for him in the long run. There's no reason to rush him back for a first round series -- especially given his previous injury problems. As Brett Brown said before Game 2, "It's about what's best for Joel's health."
Embiid, however, doesn't seem to see it that way. He says he feels like he's letting the team and the city of Philadelphia down by not being on the floor. He told ESPN he might not even play on Thursday in Game 3.
Joel Embiid to ESPN on the frustration behind his IG post from earlier, “I promised the city the playoffs and I’m not on the court and I may not be on Thursday either. I wish more than anything that I was out there. I just want the green light to play.”— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 17, 2018
It's likely that Embiid will return at some point during the first round, but the Sixers have not given a definitive date. He has cleared the concussion protocol, which is a good first step, but he still needs to complete the full return-to-play protocol, which will include participating in contact drills during practice. So far, the 76ers have not cleared him for that.
Brett Brown said there is a ‘unified effort’ among the Sixers, Joel Embiid’s representatives and Embiid’s surgeon regarding the approach for his return. He has still not been cleared for contact and there is no exact timetable for his return at the moment.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 17, 2018
Embiid has always been someone that's willing to do what the 76ers tell him to do, because he understands the team has his best interests and career at heart. So it's rare to see him publicly display his frustration like this.