The Philadelphia 76ers had everybody who paid attention to Joel Embiid's status leading up to Monday night's game against the Utah Jazz on their toes. On Sunday night, Embiid appeared on the injury report as questionable due to back tightness.
That's nothing new, considering he's missed a handful of games throughout this season so far for the same reasons. Although Embiid has missed games due to a tight back, he's also played through it at times as he's gone from questionable to active on game days.
It seemed that was going to be the case on Monday night as the Sixers looked to wrap up a four-game road trip out West. During the team's Monday morning shootaround, Embiid was a participant.
According to Sixers head coach Doc Rivers, Embiid seemed fine. In fact, Rivers wasn't even aware that his big man was dealing with any injuries or setbacks until his pregame press conference an hour and a half before tip-off against the Jazz.
"I didn't know there was an issue," Rivers admitted on Monday. "As far as I know [he's going to play]." With half an hour left to go before tip-off, the Sixers submitted their starting lineup, which included Embiid. Then moments later, they backtracked.
Embiid was ruled out as a late scratch against the Jazz due to back tightness. With more information on the situation, Doc Rivers explained Embiid's absence from his understanding following Monday night's loss against the Jazz.
"I thought there were no issues, and I thought he would play," Rivers said after the game. "Then, [the medical staff] came to me and told me that his back is still stiff. I don't think this is a long-term issue or anything like that. I think it's just a game missed."
It was unfortunate the 76ers had to roll without their most productive player against the NBA's best team on Monday. But the good news is that Embiid doesn't seem to be dealing with a notable setback or anything. If the usual trend keeps up, the big man will likely be ready to roll for the Sixers' next game against the Houston Rockets.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_