76ers

Promising results for Embiid's hand

Promising results for Embiid's hand

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PHOENIX — Here's a collective sigh of relief: following X-rays Sunday night, Joel Embiid was told his right hand is not broken.

Embiid believes he suffered a sprain when he collided at halfcourt with Devin Booker and slammed into the ground with 3:54 to go. He stayed in for the remainder of the game, determined to play until the end as the Sixers fended off the Suns, 123-110 (see observations).

"It was numb but I'm a warrior," Embiid said after the game, his hand wrapped in a thick bundle of ice. "I want to push through stuff and I want to play. I wanted to be on the court to win the game and that's what we did."

Embiid grabbed his hand throughout the game. He shook off the injury (and foul called on him on the play), though, to grab three rebounds and swat one shot in the following minutes. He scored 22 points with nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks on the night. This was his 20th 20-point game of the season.

"When you look at his plus-minus, a plus-32, I haven't seen that before," Brett Brown said. "I don't remember seeing that before. That's indicative of what he means to us."

Embiid does not expect to miss time because of his hand. The Sixers' next game is Wednesday at home against the Spurs.

"I have no idea," Embiid said of the plan as it relates to his injury. "But I think I should be fine."

Embiid is no stranger to physical play. It was not surprising to see him elevate like he did to try to grab the ball.

He had been battling injuries as of late. Embiid recently was sidelined because of back tightness and still is on medical restriction for no back-to-backs. The Sixers are focused on maintaining Embiid's health through limited practice work and travel to cities wherein he is not playing.

"There's always concern," Brown said. "You get caught up in the game. You're just trying to win the game at that stage. It's always on your mind. The way he plays, there's always a chance. It's like with everybody, but him especially. I think the fact he just hasn't practiced the awkward moments, the unorthodox moments scare you a little bit more because of what I just said."

The Sixers picked up just their second win of the season without Embiid (2-7) Saturday in Denver over the Nuggets.

Sixers bringing 'bunker mentality' into road playoff setting

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Sixers bringing 'bunker mentality' into road playoff setting

You’ve witnessed the Miami scenes. 

The pristine beaches, exciting nightlife, eclectic cuisine. The list goes on.

It all adds up to one of the best destination experiences in the United States.

And the Sixers don’t want anything to do with it.

This is a business trip.

Scratch that. This is battle.

“It just becomes, I think, a little bit more insular, a little bit more of a bunker mentality,” Brett Brown said at Wednesday’s practice. “It’s a little bit more of trying to minimize distractions. You’re not in your own bedroom. You’re not in your own sort of comfort zone, your own routine, rhythm to your day.

“It’s a huge part of young players figuring out life on the road and it certainly gets exacerbated in the playoffs. But I like it. I like the mentality and the spirit of being together. I think we have a very close team and I think it forces you to become even closer when you’re just not at home.”

Games 3 and 4 inside AmericanAirlines Arena will feel like anywhere but home for the Sixers. In the first road playoff game for this young team, the players will have to deal with crowd noise and an extremely physical opponent.

The volume will subside as the Sixers are able to string together baskets, and they know the only way to do that is take the smart approach to the Heat’s increased physicality.

“It doesn’t have to be macho vs. macho,” Brown said. “That’s not how we want to play. We want to have an intellectual response to physicality. It can mean speed, it can mean space, it can mean the technique of just creating a lead and getting open. A simple jab step and putting your arm in somebody’s chest and throwing out a lead hand as an example of stuff you’d learn in eighth grade. But it all equals fundamentals, poise, technique, that stuff to combat physicality.

“It’s not they punch you, you punch them, they punch … it’s not that at all."

“You don’t want to do anything that can put yourself in a predicament, allow someone to get hurt,” Robert Covington said. “Nobody wants to get fined, nobody wants to be on the back end of something like that because it can be retaliation that can come from it. You have to play smart and just have to sit up here and do it different ways. You cannot get caught up in the moment and do something crazy.”

Whatever physical tactics the Heat attempt, the Sixers promise they’ll be ready this time around.

“I’ve got a few hits for people coming their way,” Ben Simmons said.

“I’m ready to play.”

Sixers officially list Joel Embiid as doubtful for Game 3

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Sixers officially list Joel Embiid as doubtful for Game 3

MIAMI — Just over 24 hours before the Sixers face off against the Heat in Game 3, Joel Embiid was listed as doubtful because of a left orbital fracture, or a 75 percent he will not play. That doesn’t mean, though, that status won’t change.

Embiid went through his second straight day of light practice Wednesday shortly after the team arrived in Miami. The Sixers will hold morning shootaround Thursday and could evaluate him again in pregame warmups before he is ruled in or out. 

Embiid was knocking down threes prior to the start of practice. 

Brett Brown said Embiid did a “little bit” of contact work Tuesday and handled it “quite well.” Conditioning is also a big part of his return. Embiid has not played in a game since March 28 when he suffered the fracture and a concussion. 

“It’s going to take time getting hit fitness up,” Brown said. “I think because he is an athlete, whenever the time comes where he does play, I think it’ll move in a more rapid way. I think his body looks great … I feel like it’ll kick in quicker than most.”

Embiid expressed his frustrations of being sidelined with an Instagram post shortly after the Sixers lost Game 2. They had previously won nine straight without him, which helped with his patience. 

“His spirit was very high,” Robert Covington said of his first practice. “Overall, he felt really good and we felt really good to have him out there with us.”

Embiid will have to shake off some rust when he does return. He thrives on consistent action to stay in game shape, and he’s been out for three weeks. If he’s not at 100 percent when he plays, Brown could see him still making an impact. 

“Defensively, he immediately comes in and changes the landscape,” Brown said. “The game is being played so fast right now and he has not been with us for a while, so I think the adjustment offensively might be a little more noticeable than defensively initially. He’s so gifted and he’s intelligent. He really is as smart and as instinctive a player as I’ve coached. He can look at something without doing it and then go do it.”

The Sixers are expecting another physical matchup with the Heat, especially with the next two games being in Miami. Embiid’s tough play would help them in that aspect as they try to take another series lead. The team has an approach, though, even if he cannot battle on the court. 

“It doesn’t have to be macho versus macho,” Brown said. “That’s not how we want to play. We want to have an intellectual response to physicality." 

The Sixers are looking for their first win of the season in Miami.