Joel Embiid will miss at least three games with knee tendinitis as playoffs near

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor

Since acquiring Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers, the Philadelphia 76ers have not often been able to trot out their full starting lineup. Unfortunately, that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.

Sixers coach Brett Brown announced on Saturday that Joel Embiid would not be traveling with the team on its three-game road trip, as the All-Star center recovers from left knee tendinitis.

Philly was able to top the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, and it will face the Dallas Mavericks on Monday and Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday before heading home. Embiid will be re-evaluated before Thursday’s game against the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks and could make a return as soon as then.

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Embiid has missed 10 games of 18 games since the All-Star break due to his balky knee, although the team says the rest is more precautionary than anything else.

“This is not sort of a reaction to symptoms,” Brown said. “It’s just load management. Again, we’re just trying to be smart and deliver him to play in the playoffs ready to go.”

76ers center Joel Embiid will miss time down the stretch for precautionary reasons. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
76ers center Joel Embiid will miss time down the stretch for precautionary reasons. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Less time for the 76ers’ new lineup to jell

Since Harris’ arrival on February 7, the Sixers have only played 10 games with their full starting lineup. In addition to Embiid’s absence, swingman Jimmy Butler rested during a March 12 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Ben Simmons missed Monday's loss to the Orlando Magic with a stomach virus.

With a starting lineup of Embiid, Simmons, Butler, Harris and J.J. Redick, the 76ers are 8-2. Overall, they are 49-27, and they are also 6-5 since the Harris trade in games without a full starting lineup, in part due to their two big trades robbing them of much of their depth.

However, even if Embiid comes back on Thursday, he’s likely to miss one of the final two games of the season, which are back-to-back games. With only six games left in the season, every game counts if this team will be in top shape for the postseason.

“It isn’t ideal,” Brown said. “In a perfect world, you’d have all these guys together and playing, and playing a lot, you know, growing in relation to familiarity and so on.”

Fortunately for the 76ers, there isn’t much on the line for them as far as playoff seeding, as they’re practically locked into the No. 3 seed. They are 4.5 games up on the Boston Celtics and 4.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors, so unless they or the Raptors lose out, they will likely stay where they are in the standings.

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