Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has cleared the concussion protocol but will not play in Game 2 against the Miami Heat on Monday. Sixers coach Brett Brown said Sunday that the club does not have a clear idea on when Embiid might return.
Embiid suffered a broken orbital bone and concussion in a collision with teammate Markelle Fultz on March 28. He underwent surgery to repair the fracture and has been sidelined since.
Embiid had told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne prior to Saturday night’s playoff opener that he was optimistic about playing in Game 2 or 3.
“If it was my decision, I would play, but I can’t get back out on the court if I don’t have the OK from them,” Embiid said. “But everything has been going well. I’ve been able to do everything. And I feel great. So we got a pretty good chance for Game 2 or Game 3. We gonna see how it feels in the next couple of days.”
Embiid said he has lost some weight since he suffered the injury. He will wear a protective mask when he returns to the court.
Without Embiid, the Sixers dominated the Heat in Game 1. Philadelphia outscored Miami by 31 points in the second half of its 130-103 win, using a number of small-ball lineups after halftime.
Philadelphia has handled Embiid’s absence well. The club is 9-0 without its All-Star center, who averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 63 games in the regular season.
Overall, Philadelphia has won 17 consecutive games.
Smart injured himself diving to the floor to corral a loose ball against the Indiana Pacers on March 11. It was the same night that rookie Daniel Theis tore his meniscus and Kyrie Irving played his last game of the season for the Celtics.
Combined with the loss of Gordon Hayward on opening night, the Celtics enter the postseason with just 11 healthy bodies on their 15-man roster.
Smart’s return would be a needed boost for a young Celtics team. The team set a six- to eight-week timeline after his surgery.
“I’ve got hopes,” Smart said. “We’re very optimistic. But the last thing we want to do is get out there and rush anything and we’re back to square one. So right now the timetable is still the same. Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks, things change and we can move it up earlier.”