AP Photo/Chris Szagola
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid won’t play in his team’s road game against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, and there’s a “great chance” he’ll sit out of Philly’s regular-season finale at the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday as well “out of caution,” per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The NBA MVP candidate is averaging an NBA-high 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game for the 52-28 76ers, who are locked into the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed for the playoffs.
Embiid didn’t travel with the 76ers on Thursday to Atlanta, per Pompey, who added that All-Star guard James Harden was still scheduled to head south for the team’s final regular-season road tilt.
Sitting Embiid appears to be the prudent move considering the ultimately meaningless nature of these final two regular-season games for the 76ers, who need their big man healthy as they strive for their first NBA title in 40 years.
The big man has dealt with left foot soreness for much of the season and just finished a stretch where he played 18 of his team’s 19 games from March 2 to April 6. With the 76ers’ playoff position no longer in doubt, the 76ers can afford to rest Embiid as they look ahead.
The NBA’s 16 playoff teams will begin their postseason runs on either April 15 or April 16. Philadelphia will face off against the sixth-place Eastern Conference team, which will either be the Brooklyn Nets or Miami Heat.
A Nets win in either of their final two games will lock Brooklyn into the No. 6 seed. They host the Magic on Friday before welcoming Philadelphia into town on Sunday.
If the Nets drop two and the Heat win their final pair (at the Washington Wizards on Friday, home against the Magic on Sunday), then Miami will jump Brooklyn for the No. 6 seed.
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