What Joel Embiid’s return means for Philadelphia 76ers, the East playoff picture and the Philadelphia 76ers

PHILADELPHIA – When Joel Embiid The Western Conference-leading team won Tuesday night’s game by a score of 3-2. Oklahoma City ThunderThe sold-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center rose up.

Nick Nurse, 76ers head coach, was also holding his breath.

“Go faster?” Nurse replied postgame to a question about what he was thinking when he watched Embiid swiping Embiid’s ball and driving into the paint at the end of a game that was only one point after Embiid had swiped it from Thunder guard Josh Giddey.

Embiid, playing in his first match in eight weeks following a procedure for the lateral niggling meniscus in his left leg, jumped onto Thunder center Chet Holmgren The rim. The collision sent Embiid up to the line of free throws and the rookie into photographers behind the basket. Embiid told reporters after the game, “Man I was trying to get an and-one.”

Embiid made a pair free throws and, after Oklahoma City missed three potential game-tying 3 pointers in the final 13 second of the game, Embiid, the 76ers, and their fans were able to enjoy the celebration. A 109-105 win Over the Thunder Philly’s big man MVP was officially back.

Embiid’s performance was uneven: 24 points, 6 for 14 shooting, but 12 for 12 from the foul line. He also had 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 6 turnovers. Embiid’s health was not compromised, as he had been in Saturday’s 5-on-5 session, his first full session since Golden State Warriors Forward Jonathan Kuminga Inadvertently He fell on his leg while playing a game in January.

The 76ers will now travel to Miami on Thursday night for one of their biggest games left in the regular-season. Embiid was visibly fatigued at times in Tuesday’s victory, but said he hopes to play that game too.

“We’ll just have to take it day-by-day and see how the knee reacts tomorrow,” Embiid stated. “We’ve got a big game in Miami.” If I am good to go, then go.

Tuesday’s game was a fellow All-Star Tyrese Maxey De’Anthony Melton was also in street clothes and watching the game. This is a sign of a contender that, with less than 2 weeks left in the regular season, may be close to being complete.

“I want us on a run until the end of the season,” Embiid stated. “So, we’ve got to take [the wins]”Keep on competing”

Here’s what the return of the reigning MVP could do to the playoff race as the Eastern Conference contenders watch Embiid play the Sixers in their final six regular season games.

What Embiid represents for Philadelphia on the basketball court

Philadelphia’s focus for the next two weeks is twofold: getting Embiid back up to speed and doing all it can to avoid the play in tournament. Embiid returned to the team on Tuesday, and it was a big boost. But it also showed just how much Philadelphia has changed since he was injured in late-January. Embiid never played a second with the starting guards before Tuesday’s match. Kyle Lowry You can also find out more about the following: Cameron Payne Sixth man Buddy Hield All three players were traded at or near the February 8 deadline. Embiid’s successful comeback came along with fellow All-Star Tyrese Maxey A hip injury has forced him to miss a second game in a row.

Embiid’s presence on the court has led to Philadelphia scoring 120.6 per 100 possessions, while allowing only 110.5. Over a full NBA season, those would be the NBA’s second-best offensive and third-best defensive numbers. During Embiid’s injury, Philadelphia lost 4.9 points for every 100 possessions. This was the ninth worst mark in the league during that time period.

There are reasons to believe that the team assembled with Embiid as the MVP is a better one than the roster before Embiid’s injury. Lowry is a North Philadelphia native who has made 39% of his three-pointers since joining the Sixers. He also has a strong two-way game and a connection with 76ers Coach Nick Nurse, as they both played together at the Philadelphia 76ers. Toronto Raptors.

Hield is the latest in a long line of guards who are quick shooters and can move off the ball. He should be able to play some great two-man games with Embiid just like J.J. Redick did. Seth Curry Have with him in the Past. And Nicolas BatumAfter missing several chunks of time because of injury earlier in the season, has become a mainstay in Philadelphia’s lineup. He could excel alongside Embiid in the 76ers frontcourt. One unknown is guard De’Anthony MeltonMaxey is a pivotal two-way player in Philadelphia. If he stays healthy, Maxey would be Maxey’s backcourt partner. Melton, who has been plagued by back issues for the past 44 games, is yet to return.

Embiid and the East playoff picture

The 76ers must win their matchup with the Heat in Miami on Thursday to move up from eighth place into the East play-in tourney. Miami beat the 76ers on Tuesday. New York Knicks, and will be 1.5 games ahead in the standings on Thursday with a 2-1 advantage in the season series.

If the Heat win on Thursday, they would only need to go 3-3 to finish ahead of Philadelphia in the tiebreaker. (The Sixers lost the season series to the Heat 2-1. Indiana Pacers, do not fare better in a possible three-team tie. Miami finishes with two home games against the lottery bound Toronto Raptors The team is likely to split its final six matches.

If Philly wins, the tiebreaker will be based on the conference record. The Heat currently lead the 76ers with a score of 29-18. However, that is not decided yet. A win Thursday could give Philadelphia a realistic chance to finish above Miami in the standings.

The 76ers play four of their last five games against teams in the bottom eight. The 76ers have a record of. Orlando Magic Philadelphia would likely be favored for the remaining match due to playing at home and having Embiid healthy.

If the Sixers win the game, it is possible they could pass both Heat and Pacers. They would then avoid the play in altogether. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index predicted that Philly would be a top-six team in 6% of simulations prior to Tuesday’s win.

The 76ers’ finish will also have a significant impact on the top half of East standings. As a reward for securing a top-three conference seed, none of the top teams in the conference want to face the MVP in the first round.

If Philadelphia wins the second game of the play-in and earns the eighth seed, it will be a matchup with the top-seeded team. Boston Celtics The teams will meet again in 2023’s conference semifinals. Expect renewed interest in the possibility that top seeds will be able to choose their opponents for the future.

The Sixers are an unusually difficult No. Boston, the 8th seed in the first round, would certainly be favored. The No. The No. Milwaukee Bucks, but by a smaller margin. Whichever team finishes in third place out of the Cleveland CavaliersEmbiid could make the New York Knicks or Orlando Magic an underdog in the first round against Philadelphia.

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