PHILADELPHIA — 76ers superstar center Joel Embiid is currently being listed as out for Game 3 of Philadelphia’s Eastern Conference semifinal against the MiamI Heat, but there is still progress that could be made to change his availability in time to play Friday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
As 76ers coach Doc Rivers said Thursday afternoon, Embiid has yet to be cleared from the NBA’s concussion protocol. He can’t be listed besides out until he does.
“No, not yet,” Rivers said when asked if there was a change in Embiid’s status. “Still has hurdles to get over. I’m not a doctor. I don’t even know all I mean besides the concussion protocols, he has to get through all that and all the other stuff with the injury.”
Philadelphia has certainly missed Embiid, who was named a finalist for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award for a second straight year, through the first two games of the series in Miami. The Heat, even without point guard Kyle Lowry, who has missed four straight games with his own hamstring injury were, able to cruise to comfortable double-digit victories in the first two games of the series.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, along with several of the team’s players, said they are anticipating Embiid’s return in the wake of Miami’s 119-103 victory in Game 2.
“It changes dramatically,” Spoelstra said Wednesday night when asked what Embiid’s return would mean for the series. “You’re talking about MVP talent, you know? So we’ll just have to see.
“We knew that this series was going to shift, and it was going to change pretty dramatically [if he returns]. It’s better for it to change dramatically when we’re able to get a couple wins [first] but yeah, he changes the equation quite a bit.”
Still, after the 76ers shot just 14-for-64 from 3-point range in those games, Rivers said he’s optimistic Philadelphia can get back into this series with or without Embiid in Game 3.
“I feel great,” Rivers said. “I mean, I would rather not be down 0-2, but should I feel bad? I mean, we lost two games. You watch the film last night, we played hard. Our guys competed. If anybody has a problem with that, then there’s something wrong with it. We got great shots. Since there’s a lot of analytical people out there in the world, it was our 12th-best [shot profile] of the year, which means we didn’t make shots, but we got great shots and I believe in the guys we play on the floor that they can make them over the long haul. I thought in Game 1 we got great shots. Didn’t like them as much. But Game 2, we had a ton of open shots. Ton of open 3s.
“The game, when you look at it, came down to the 3-point line in a lot of ways. They made theirs, we missed ours. So I think we believe in our players.”