CAMDEN, N.J. — Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown said on Tuesday that the organization, Joel Embiid, his representatives and team doctors are “very unified” in how Embiid’s injury is being handled.
Embiid has been sidelined since March 28 because of a broken orbital bone and concussion. He has cleared the NBA’s concussion protocol but has not yet been cleared to take contact. There remains no definitive timetable for Embiid’s return, though Brown said on Tuesday that it is not ‘that far away.’
“It’s still moving forward,” Brown said before the Sixers’ practice on Tuesday afternoon. “What I can say is there is a very unified effort with his representation and the people around him. With the people that did the operation, the doctors, with our medical staff, with the team, with me, the coaching staff. We’re all doing this. There’s a unified sort of spirit and line of communication.”
There are still a few medical hurdles for Embiid to clear as he returns from surgery, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The recovery is a process of ramping up to different stages of activity.
Internally, there is optimism that Embiid will return when the series is in Miami, though it’s unclear if he will play in Game 3 on Thursday, according to sources.
Embiid was expected to practice with the team on Tuesday, participating in shooting drills and other non-contact activity. Embiid’s presence on the practice floor was encouraging to Brown, who added that Embiid was progressing toward being cleared for contact.
“We’ll get up and down and do some script stuff,” Brown said. “It’s progressing. When that ultimately leads to an answer — he’s playing — I don’t believe is that far away. But we’ll learn more over the next 48 hours I suspect.”
Brown reiterated that he had no issue with Embiid expressing frustration on social media in the wake of Monday’s loss. “He just wants to play basketball. He wants to be with his team. He wants to play in front of the fans and he wants to see this through,” the coach said on Monday night. “And when he’s not able to do that, he gets frustrated, and we respect his frustration. It’s born out of competitiveness.”
Prior to their Game 2 loss, Philadelphia had been 9-0 in Embiid’s absence. Brown said again on Monday that the club badly needs Embiid back, pointing to the team’s struggles in the second quarter of Game 2 as an example. Miami outscored Philadelphia by 21 in the second quarter.
“We had no semblance of order, offensively especially, that his presence, availability, makes the world go around,” Brown said of Embiid, who averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 63 games in the regular season.