Sixers Injury Update: Joel Embiid plays half-court 5-on-5; Jahlil Okafor full participant

Sixers Injury Update: Joel Embiid plays half-court 5-on-5; Jahlil Okafor full participant

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The bigs are getting closer to their returns. 

On Friday, Joel Embiid participated in half-court 5-on-5 during the final day of training camp. He had not done 5-on-5 activity since undergoing left knee surgery in March. 

“To see him with us, sweating and playing against people, and them playing against him was a good day,” Brett Brown said. 

The Sixers have not set a specific date for Embiid’s return. He is targeting opening night, Oct. 18 against the Wizards in Washington, D.C. Embiid has not played in a game since Jan. 27. 

Embiid worked out and rehabbed at the Sixers' training complex over the summer. He has been part of practices, but this was the first time he was on the court in this type of game-like setting. 

“It’s a whole different thing for his teammates,” Brown said. “You have another incredible weapon and target that you have to get the ball to or recognize that he is behind you defensively.”

Jahlil Okafor, who had been sidelined by right knee soreness, participated in a complete practice for the first time in camp. He has battled right knee issues since his rookie year and last played on March 22. 

“I just feel good on the court,” Okafor said. “Everything’s pretty comfortable. I have no soreness in my knee. Mentally, I’m not even thinking about it. That’s what I’m most excited about.”

Okafor is experiencing the benefits of his drastic weight loss. He adopted a vegan diet and dropped to 258 pounds, 20 less than at the start of last training camp. While Okafor admitted he got winded at points because of the long layoff from 5-on-5 action, Brown observed Okafor is moving at a more “efficient rate.” 

“He looks like a stick,” Richaun Holmes said. “He’s moving better, more athletic. You can see the determination in his face to have a successful season.” 

Okafor said he plans to play in Sunday’s open practice at The Palestra.

“It’s going to be scary when they’re back to full health and playing,” Ben Simmons said of the centers. 

As for Simmons, he was happy to complete training camp a year removed from suffering a season-ending foot injury on the final day. He has not been under any restrictions. 

"They wanted to go for two more minutes because it was a tied game," he said. "I was like, 'Nope.' Let's just get through it." 

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (right knee patellar tendonitis) practiced but did not go through 5-on-5.

Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

AP Images

Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

One responsibility of professional athletes is being ready when your number is called.

Seems like a simple concept. However, not everyone can handle the duties of coming into a game cold and making an impact.

The Sixers' Justin Anderson prides himself on being able to thrive in just that type of situation. That's why when Brett Brown told him to be on alert prior to Friday's 120-116 win over the Nets, he was good to go.

"He came up to me before the game, maybe like 20 minutes before the game, and said he was going to go to me tonight," Anderson said. "I told him I was going to be ready. He went to me and we all played well."

Oh, Anderson was definitely ready. The third-year swingman entered at the 6:55 mark of the first quarter and made a trio of three-pointers to keep the sluggish Sixers afloat early on.

“I had hit the first one, and they were talking a little trash. They didn’t respect it, so they continued to go under [screens],” Anderson said. “I was always taught if they go under, raise up and shoot it. That’s what you practice for. I just wanted to make sure I took good shots, played hard, brung energy and I think we did a good of doing that.”

Wait, so guys on the 21-48 Nets squad had the nerve to talk a little smack? While a bit laughable, it didn’t help in knocking Anderson off his game.

“It just showed me that they weren’t disciplined in their scouting report and I tried to take advantage of it,” he said. “It’s not like I’m shooting 20s [percent] from the three. It was what it was and I just wanted to take advantage of my opportunity.”

Anderson finished with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range along with two rebounds in 14 minutes. Even with that offensive production, it was his defensive prowess in the final minute that made the biggest impact on the night.

“We had the confidence to both give Richaun (Holmes) some minutes and Justin when it mattered and had a big stop,” Brown said. “I think it was against (Spencer) Dinwiddie. You know, moved his feet, guarded the yard as we call it.

That’s major trust in a player who missed 23 games earlier in the season with shin splints and eight more recently with an ankle sprain. But with the playoffs right around the corner, Brown knows he may need to go to Anderson again in an even more crucial moment.

“Good for him. He’s a wonderful teammate, he’s good people and he’s had sort of an erratic year with injury,” Brown said. “I thought tonight he confirmed what we all think in relation to him being able to help us.”

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback


Allen Iverson intently watched the Sixers pull out a 120-116 win over the Nets Friday standing on the court of the Wells Fargo Center (see observations)

After the buzzer sounded, he gave an impromptu postgame press conference as he walked through the room where Brett Brown addresses the media. 

“I’m very familiar with this right here,” Iverson said, laying his hand on the podium. 

When the topic of his desire to get in the game and still play came up, the 42-year-old Hall of Famer replied, “I always want to help, but I’m too old to help. I can’t help no more … I can’t play no more. “The Answer” has gone to heaven and Allen Iverson is still here.” 

Iverson was very much a part of the game from the sidelines. He stood during the final stretch in the fourth quarter, enthusiastically reacted to calls, and high-fived fans as the Sixers closed out the victory in the final seconds. 

“It’s awesome,” Ben Simmons said. “He wants us to win. He’s behind us. He can obviously see we have a lot of potential, which is awesome coming from him.” 

Iverson made a request about the Sixers, who at 38-30 are chasing a return to the playoffs and possibly home-court advantage. 

“Treat my ‘little dudes,’” Iverson said with air quotes, referencing how he described the players in an interview last week, “treat them right and give them a chance.”

The Sixers noticed Iverson's encouragement. 

“I saw him, I saw the support,” Joel Embiid said. “I like it. Like he said, we are his little dudes. I appreciate the support.”