When the Philadelphia 76ers get on a plane to Miami on Sunday, Joel Embiid will not be with him.
Due to a concussion and orbital bone fracture, he is out for the first two games of the 76ers second-round series against the Heat, but Embiid hopes to return for Game 3 or 4 at home, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
ESPN Sources: Joel Embiid won’t travel for Games 1 and 2 in Miami, but there’s optimism he could return as soon as either Game 3 or 4 in Philadelphia. He needs to clear concussion protocols and see doctor mid-week on his orbital fracture. More on NBA Countdown at 12:30 ET on ABC.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 1, 2022
The severity of the orbital bone fracture will determine the next steps. If it is a relatively straightforward fracture, Embiid could return mid-series wearing a mask to protect his face. However, depending on how many fractures and if they are displaced, the injury could require surgery. Embiid and the 76ers are optimistic this is a relatively straightforward situation, allowing him to return to the court.
However, if the 76ers return for Game 3 down 2-0 to the top-seeded Heat, even the return of Embiid may not be enough. Philadelphia’s game plan with Embiid would have had similarities to what it did against Toronto — use Embiid’s size and physicality, he averaged 26.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game against the Raptors — but without their MVP candidate a lot more falls on the shoulders of James Harden. Who was good but not vintage Harden during the Toronto series — Philly needs much more from him this time around.
In addition to the mask, Embiid will continue playing through a torn thumb ligament in his right hand that will require offseason surgery. Embiid said after the series he noticed it more on rebounding, plus it seemed to impact the accuracy of some of his passes.
Game 1 between the 76ers and Heat is set for Monday night in Miami. The Heat will be without Kyle Lowry for that game, the team announced Sunday.