Joel Embiid to get more of a role at Sixers practice

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Sixers center Joel Embiid shoots the basketball during warm-ups before the Sixers play the Miami Heat in game two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Monday, April 16, 2018 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Hours after posting a profane message on Instagram about his frustration of being sidelined, Joel Embiid was on the practice court for the 76ers as they prepared for Thursday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference series in Miami against the Heat.

Following Monday’s 113-103 loss to the Heat at the Wells Fargo Center that evened their opening-round series at one game apiece, Embiid posted on Instagram “[Expletive] sick and tired of being babied,” he wrote.

Embiid, who was not available for comment Tuesday, has not been cleared to play, but he has yet to be ruled out for Thursday’s game.

According to a Sixers official, the next status update on an injured player by the NBA isn’t due until 5 p.m. Wednesday. Even then, the Sixers don’t have to definitively say whether he will play Thursday — they just have to update his status.

Monday’s loss marked the 10th consecutive game Embiid has missed since suffering an orbital bone fracture near his left eye on March 28.

Embiid was still not cleared for contact but was scheduled to participate somewhat in practice Tuesday. (The media didn’t have access to practice.)

“He will be doing some shooting and scripting, really for the first time with the team,” coach Brett Brown told the media before the Sixers practiced. “What that translates in regards of when he will play again with us on the court, we don’t know.”

When asked whether he was progressing toward contact, Brown replied, “Yes, he is progressing and it is such an open-ended word, I feel responsible saying yes he is progressing.”

Brown later expanded on the topic.

“Today we will get up and down and do some script stuff, not entirely physical stuff, but it is progressing,” he said. He added that he doesn’t think it’ll be long before the Sixers know, “but we will learn more over the next 48 hours, I suspect.”

Brown was asked for his reaction to Embiid’s Instagram post, and he said he stands by his remarks that he made after Monday’s game.

“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,” Brown said after the loss. “When he is not able to do that, he gets frustrated, and I respect his frustration. It is born out of competitiveness, and it is born out of him wanting to be with his team.”

The Sixers will travel to Miami on Wednesday and practice that afternoon — another day for the team to evaluate Embiid.

When Embiid was hurt, the team estimated that he would miss two to four weeks.

Brown has insisted that the Sixers’ playoff situation won’t have any bearing on when Embiid returns and that he will come back when he is healthy enough to do so.

Fultz takes the high road

Markelle Fultz played just 4 minutes, 38 seconds Monday after playing 13:57 in Saturday’s opening 130-103 win over the Heat. Brown decided to use T.J. McConnell in the second half over Fultz.

On Tuesday, Fultz, who was the first overall pick in the NBA draft last June, took the high road when asked about his limited playing time Monday.

“I am all about the team,” Fultz said. “Any decision [Brown] makes, I am fine with it. He thought that was a better decision. I was still there cheering my teammates, trying to help them stay motivated.”

Camera icon Yong Kim / Staff Photographer
Sixers guard Markelle Fultz dribbling against the Heat during Game 2.

Fultz returned late in the season after being sidelined 68 games for a shoulder injury and then attempting to regain his shooting touch. He appeared in the last 10 regular-season games. In those games, he averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 assists in 17.7 minutes.

After the game, Brown said he opted for McConnell in the second half because of the physical nature of the game and because he wanted a more experienced player.