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Joel Embiid clears concussion protocol, hopes to return in Game 3 Friday

Rich Eisen explains why the Philadelphia 76ers are at a big disadvantage without Joel Embiid on the court after they went down 2-0 in their series with the Miami Heat.

Officially, Joel Embiid is still listed as doubtful just seven hours before Game 3 between the Heat and 76ers tips off Friday night.

However, Embiid has cleared the league’s concussion protocol, went through shootaround, is being fitted for a mask, and hopes to be cleared to return to play in Game 3. That is according to multiple reports out of Philadelphia, the first from Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the second from Shams Charania of The Athletic (which has a clear agent spin on the events).

Embiid has been out since suffering a concussion and orbital bone fracture in his face in the final minutes of the close-out game against the Raptors. Embiid has cleared the multi-step process that is the league’s concussion protocol. Whether he can play in a mask — something he undoubtedly wants to do — is a matter of details about the fracture we don’t know (where is it? Is it displaced?) and pain tolerance.

Embiid is also playing through torn ligaments in his right thumb that will require postseason surgery.

Philadelphia trails Miami 0-2 in the second-round series, having lost the first two by a combined 30 points (and it wasn’t that close). Without their MVP-level center in Embiid, the 76ers have struggled to generate good looks against an athletic and physical Heat defense. Even with an Embiid return, the 76ers will need more from James Harden in particular but also Tyrese Maxey and others to make this a series.