Sixers' Joel Embiid clears concussion protocol, participates in shootaround

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Embiid clears concussion protocol, participates in Friday morning shootaround originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid has cleared the NBA’s concussion protocol and participated in Friday morning's shootaround ahead of the Sixers' second-round series Game 3 against the Heat, a team official said.

At approximately 12:30 p.m. ET, the Sixers upgraded Embiid from out to doubtful.

Those developments are positive and important ones for Embiid, who suffered a concussion and right orbital fracture last Thursday. He also has a torn ligament in his right thumb.

The MVP finalist has evidently made meaningful progress over the last several days.

“I really don’t know,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said following the Sixers’ Game 2 loss in Miami. “Honestly, we talked yesterday (via FaceTime), we talked today. … He looked good as far as talking, but he’s got so many steps to go through. I don’t think he’s cleared any of them right now, so we just have to wait and see.”

Tyrese Maxey, who scored a game-high 34 points in Wednesday night’s defeat, gave a veteran’s answer when asked about Embiid after shootaround Friday.

“We’re just preparing to win the game,” Maxey said. “Hopefully, he plays. If he doesn’t play, he doesn’t play. We’re just preparing as another game — a game that we have to win.”

Embiid's status could change before Game 3's 7 p.m. tip-off.

Passing through the league’s protocol is a key step because concussions are unique for each individual and there’s not initially a definitive timeline for when a player will fully recover.

While it’s good news for the Sixers that Embiid has checked that box, his other injuries are significant. After the Sixers’ Game 5 first-round loss to the Raptors, he admitted his thumb injury caused him to play less “freely.”

He wore a protective mask four years ago during the Sixers’ Round 1 win over Miami after suffering a left orbital fracture and concussion. Embiid made his return in Game 3, posting 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a Sixers victory.