Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid has been a spectator for the past ten games after a collision with teammate Markelle Fultz on March 28 resulted in a concussion and a fractured orbital bone that required surgery. Embiid, who averages 22.9 points and 11.0 rebounds, has cleared the league's concussion protocol and is progressing to being physically cleared to play.
Whether that happens ahead of Thursday's pivotal Game 3 is uncertain, but 76ers coach Brett Brown addressed reporters before Tuesday's practice and said, "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."
While Philadelphia won all eight games he missed to close the regular season as part of a 16-game winning streak and stormed to a 130-103 rout in Game 1 on Saturday, Embiid has been chomping at the bit to play. This is understandable considering the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft has yet to play in the postseason in his career and more than tripled his games played after appearing in 63 in 2017/18.
Perhaps it was the frustration of seeing his team lose 113-103 on Monday night that allowed Miami to steal away home-court advantage and knot this series at one game apiece, but Embiid vented his spleen at being on the sidelines in a one-sentence post on Instagram that included the F-word as he said he was "sick and tired of being babied."
Monday's loss marked the first time in nearly a month the 76ers lost a game, which had as much to do with a horrid second quarter in which they totaled 13 points and their poor shooting throughout from 3-point range (7 for 36) as it did Heat guard Dwyane Wade rolling back the years with a vintage 28-point performance off the bench in just 26 minutes. The 36-year-old hit his first seven shots, finished 11 for 16 and had a key steal and bucket with 4:03 left that blunted a 76ers rally after they had closed within two.
Miami also got a strong effort from James Johnson, who hit all seven of his shots and finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Goran Dragic added 20 points and Kelly Olynyk had 11 and six assists as the Heat snapped a four-game postseason road losing streak that started with a Game 2 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the 2016 conference semifinals.