MIAMI — Joel Embiid will play tonight in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena, according to NBA sources. The 76ers will only publically say that he’ll play baring a setback during pregame warmups.
The all-star center had missed the last 10 games after suffering a fractured orbital bone March 28 against the New York Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center. Embiid had been listed as doubtful on Wednesday and before this morning’s shootaround. Embiid was then upgraded to probable in the afternoon.
He will be a welcomed addition.
Embiid has averaged 22.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.76 blocks in 63 games this season. He and Milwaukee Bucks all-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo were the league’s only players to average 20 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists in at least 50 games played this season.
Embiid made the Sixers a better defensive team during the regular season. He finished sixth in the league with a 99.7 defensive rating. He’s a candidate for the league’s defensive player of the year and all-NBA team.
So it’s obvious, with the Heat series tied at a game apiece, that the Sixers will enjoy his presence.
By now, we know that Embiid was noticeably frustrated over not playing. After Monday’s Game 2 loss, he went on Instagram to voice his displeasure. Embiid posted, “[Freaking] sick and tired of being babied.” Then he told ESPN, “I promised the city the playoffs and I’m not on the court, and I may not be on Thursday [for Game 3], either. I wish more than anything that I was out there. I just want the green light to play.”
He’s gotten his wish.