In previous seasons, seeing the Philadelphia 76ers allow Joel Embiid to play on the second nights of a back to back was rare. Last year, the team eased up and allowed him to participate in both games every now and then.
This year, the Sixers let Embiid play as long as he felt healthy and up for the challenge. However, the rules changed a bit recently as Embiid is coming off of a notable knee injury. After suffering a bruised knee more than three weeks ago, Embiid was eased back into the Sixers’ lineup.
Last Saturday, the big man checked in for the first time in ten games and was on a minutes restriction. The following night after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves, Embiid got the night off as the 76ers didn’t want him playing back-to-backs just yet.
The big man appeared on the court for the Sixers during Tuesday’s game against the Boston Celtics and was left off the injury report for Friday’s matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans as well. Heading into Friday’s matchup, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was asked if the team intended to play Embiid in Saturday’s game, which is set to tip-off 25 hours after Friday’s start.
Of course, Rivers didn’t have a definitive answer. Following Friday night’s loss against New Orleans, Rivers was asked again, and he revealed that the Sixers initially planned to play Embiid in Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but now he’s not so sure after the big man had another awkward landing on his knee late in the game against the Pelicans.
“He did fall awkwardly,” Rivers said after Friday’s game. “I don’t the answer (whether he’ll play or not). All plans were to play Joel tomorrow, but he fell awkwardly, and now we’ll have to wait and see.”
The good news is it doesn’t seem like Embiid suffered any setbacks after seemingly tweaking his knee. Following Friday night’s game, the All-Star center took the court to get some extra shots up after a rough night. While the 76ers won’t rule Embiid out early, it won’t come as much of a surprise if he gets the night off on Saturday for precautionary reasons.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_ & Instagram: @JGrassoNBA.