Joel Embiid nearing return, 76ers to play in KC next Friday
Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown is focused on October 18. Lawrencians may have an earlier date in mind.
On Thursday, former KU standout and current 76er Joel Embiid participated in full court 5-on-5 scrimmages with his team for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left knee in March. The team listed him as a full participant in practice, though it noted he'll be out for Friday's game against the Celtics.
So what's with the dates?
First, there's October 18, the day of the regular season opener for the 76ers this year. According to NBC Sports' Jessica Camerato, the goal for Embiid was to be ready to play in that game against the Wizards, which, by the way, will be televised on ESPN.
The second date, though, has a little more local meaning.
On Friday, October 13, Embiid and the 76ers will play an exhibition game against the Miami Heat at Sprint Center, meaning fans will get the chance to watch the former lottery pick in person some 40 miles east of Allen Fieldhouse — that is, if he plays.
"I would like to play preseason," Embiid said on Thursday, according to Camerato, "because last year I think it helped me a little bit just get in a groove."
Sure enough, Embiid appeared in seven preseason games last year, scoring in double figures in each of the last five.
Though he never played more than 20 minutes in any of those contests, Embiid was able to carry that momentum into the regular season. He broke out with a 20-point, 7-rebound, 2-block outing on opening night and impressed so much that despite only playing in 31 games he finished third in the voting for Rookie of the Year.
"He's dominant and it's hard really, like, to find matchups," Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters on Thursday. "He comes in and he really does make an impact immediately on whatever we're doing."
So far, per Camerato, Embiid is on schedule with his rehab. If anything he might even be ahead of pace.
So where does that leave Embiid? Clearly he'd like to play sooner rather than later, and there's a lot for fans hopeful to watch him in person to be encouraged with.
But hey, even if you can't make it out for the game, there might be another way you can catch him live. It'll save you a little money on seats, though the plane ticket to Philadelphia might set you back a few hundred bucks.