CAMDEN, N.J. — One starter is returning while another is nearing a return.
Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain) and Josh Richardson (concussion protocol) participated in practice Tuesday. Embiid is listed as questionable while Richardson, who cleared concussion protocol, will play Wednesday vs. the Pistons.
Ben Simmons (nerve impingement in lower back) remains out and an update on his status is expected in the coming days, a team spokesperson said.
Just having Embiid and Richardson back in the mix brought a different vibe to practice, according to their head coach.
"Where do I begin?" Brett Brown said. "To have them just be a part of the team from a personal level and then the obvious talent level factors in where you get excited to be able to welcome them back. But it was a significant difference."
Embiid suffered a left shoulder sprain after a first quarter collision with Ante Zizic against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Feb. 26. He’s missed the last five games with the team going 2-3 in his absence.
On the season, Embiid has missed 21 games because of injuries, load management and an early season suspension. The Sixers have gone 11-10 in those games.
Richardson's concussion occured in the first quarter of the game against the Clippers last Sunday when he collided with teammate Alec Burks. Richardson has missed 17 games this season with hamstring injuries in both legs, but he'd never dealt with an injury like this.
“It’s just been weird," Richardson said. "I never had a concussion before so I didn’t know how to approach it. But for me it was like, I was in a dark room for a few days, couldn’t really go to games and then just trying to keep the sensory stuff low and figure it out. The last few days there have been some headaches and that’s what’s been worrying me, but hopefully it’s over with.”
So what did Richardson do while he was recovering for the first few days and sitting "in a dark room?"
“Nothing. Try to sleep the whole time. Can’t look at your phone or the TV. You’re not supposed to read. I had a book with me but I couldn’t read it.”
At 38-26, the Sixers sit in sixth in the East with 18 games remaining. They’re a game back of the Pacers for fifth, three back of the Heat for fourth and 4½ back of the Celtics for third. The Sixers do have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA.
The team is still hopeful it can get healthy enough to go on a run to end the regular season and head into the playoffs with momentum.
“I’m hoping so," Richardson said. "I think we all are. Hopefully we can put together some healthy games at the end of the stretch, just to get our feet under us again going into the playoffs together. We’ll see how it plays out.”
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