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NBA

76ers’ Joel Embiid a doubt for Game 3, but James Harden is stepping up

Should the Sixers exit the playoffs at the hands of the Heat, the questions will surely surround Joel Embiid and his abnsence

Paul Rudder
Paul Rudder
Update:
76ers’ Joel Embiid a doubt for Game 3, but James Harden is stepping up
Mitchell LeffAFP

The Sixers have had to manage the series minus their star, but they are still alive in the post season. With the latest reports confirming he’s not available just yet, the question is now when will he be good to go and more over will it make a difference?

76ers’ Joel Embiid still a doubt

The absence of Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid during the series against the Miami Heat can’t be overstated. Now that the Sixeras are 2-0 down in the series, there has never been a need for Embiid like there is right now. The big man suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone against the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs last Thursday. On Tuesday gone, Sixeres coach Doc Rivers explained that Embiid was “doing a lot better,” however he went on to explain that he did not want to give any “false hope” ahead of their do or die game with the Heat. He looked good, as far as talking,” Rivers said. “But he’s got so many steps to go through, and I don’t think he’s cleared any of them right now. So we just have to wait and see.”

The 76ers need Joel Embiid

To date Embiid has missed the first two games of the second round playoff series against the Miami Heat. With that said, there is the hope that Sixers’ star will be able to take the court against the Heat, indeed there is hope that the favored MVP candidate for this year could play as early as Game 3. With that said, it now comes down to a ‘wait and see’ scenario. On the one side we are talking about the the favored player to win the league’s MVP award with a league leading points per game average. On the other on the other, it must be said that we are talking about a player who in this season alone has experienced a concussion, a broken bone in his face, most recently a torn ligament in his thumb and yet still he keeps going. He will undoubtedly require surgery once the season is over, but for the moment we stand here.

James Harden stepped up

If there is one positive that could be taken from Tuesday night’s game it’s the idea that James Harden was definitely present and acounted for. With 20 points and nine assists, the shooting guard has started to silence critics as he continues to see an increasing degree of attention paid to his presence on defense. “They did a really good job of putting two on the ball and trying to deny me basically the entire court, so it was giving our guys more space to be aggressive if they’re going to deny me wherever I am on the court,” Harden said. “Give them credit. But I feel like, if we make shots, and I keep saying that, but it opens up the floor a little bit more, and you have to respect our shooters now.”

What do the 76ers do now?

While there are obvious questions surrounding Harden, the reality is if the 76ers can get Embiid back on the court they will definitely have a shot at turning th series around. The franchise and the coach Doc Rivers have both been hesitant to give a clear idea of when or if Embiid will return, but rest assured the favored candidate for the MVP award will be back befoer this series is over. “It changes dramatically,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, 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.” With that said it now becomes a matter of whether or not Embiid’s return is a case of too little too late.

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