Sixers' Joel Embiid feeling better, but not ready to play

Joel Embiid wore a protective mask during warmups prior to the Sixers’ 130-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in the regular season finale.

Joel Embiid went straight for the U-word when asked whether he could play in the 76ers’ playoff opener on Saturday.

“Unlikely,” he said, “but there’s still a chance based on the way I’ve been feeling the past couple of days and the way I’ve progressed. Unlikely, but we’re gong to see how it feels.”

Wednesday’s 130-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Wells Fargo Center marked the eighth consecutive game Embiid has missed after fracturing the orbital bone near his left eye and suffering a concussion against the New York Knicks on March 28.

He donned a charcoal-gray mask while working out before the game and during his media availability. While Embiid said he’s getting better every day, his face isn’t fully healed.

That’s why he doesn’t want to put a timeline on his return and is classifying the injury as day-to-day. The hope, however, is for him play at some point in the first round.  But Embiid said he’s following the doctor’s instructions.

“Well, I think everybody knows me, and they know I love playing,” he said. “And if it was my decision, I would probably play. But, actually, I wouldn’t say that, because I don’t think I am ready to play, because it still doesn’t feel all the way right.”

Participating in the NBA concussion protocol, Embiid has yet to be cleared to participate in full-contact drills. He’s doing movement, running, and shooting drills.  Embiid said he’s not experiencing pain, but the area near his orbital bone is numb.

“I can’t really feel it,”  he said. “But, like I said, it’s getting better. I’m actually surprised at how well and how fast it is getting better. But it is getting better.

Embiid is averaging 22.9 points, 11 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.76 blocks. He has 38 double-doubles.