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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was having one of his healthiest seasons before the All-Star break. Although he missed a game here and there, the big man didn't miss consecutive matchups throughout the first half of the 2020-2021 NBA season.

That all changed his first game back since being in the NBA's health and safety protocol during the All-Star break. Against the Washington Wizards, Embiid quickly shook off the rust he had after not playing in over a week and aggressively went at the Wizards' defense.

Unfortunately, his aggression backfired at a point during the third quarter. After successfully throwing down a dunk, Embiid landed awkwardly and tweaked his knee. As the Sixers hoped it was nothing more than a hyperextension, they couldn't be so sure until Embiid received MRI results.

The following morning, the Sixers' medical staff confirmed that the big man didn't suffer any structural damage. However, he wasn't set to return anytime soon. As he was diagnosed with a bruised knee, Embiid was told he would be re-evaluated in two weeks.

For the next eight games, Embiid remained off the court. On Saturday night, he received his two-week re-evaluation report, and the 76ers weren't ready to allow Embiid to return to the court. 

According to a team source, Embiid has progressed well through his rehabilitation program. At this point, Embiid has resumed on-court activities and is beginning to ramp up his conditioning. As it seems his return could be coming soon, the Sixers couldn't offer a targeted date.

On Monday, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers hinted at a possible return for Embiid once the team's current road trip concludes. "A week ago, we had four centers," Rivers said following Monday's practice. "Now, we're down to two. Without Joel, we're down to one center and then a bunch of small guys. So, that's just what we are for the next two games, probably. Then, we'll get back to our normal rotation."

The Sixers will face the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday on the road without Embiid. While Rivers and the organization cannot guarantee the four-time All-Star will be back in action for Saturday night's matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, it sure seems like that's the date the 76ers are targeting for Embiid's eventual return. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_ & Instagram: @JGrassoNBA.