After getting off to a hot start this year, the Philadelphia 76ers are beginning to struggle a bit. As they embarked on a four-game road trip out West, the Sixers were hopeful to come back with a winning record. However, the opposite happened.
The trip started off right with a win over the Sacramento Kings, but it all went downhill quickly. Another loss to the Portland Trail Blazers left the Sixers with a bad taste in their mouths. Then, a blowout defeat against the Phoenix Suns put them on a two-game road skid before taking on their toughest test of the trip, facing the Utah Jazz.
Unfortunately, the Sixers had to face the Jazz without Joel Embiid. Going into Monday's game, Embiid was questionable due to back tightness. Although he participated in the morning shootaround, pregame warmups and was listed in the starting lineup half an hour before tip-off, Embiid was a late scratch on Monday.
After the Sixers' third-straight loss to the Jazz, Philly's head coach Doc Rivers admitted he wasn't aware Embiid's back was bothering him, leading up to him officially being ruled out. While it seemed at the time the big man might've suffered a setback, Rivers guessed Embiid's absence wouldn't carry on much further.
"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."
As it turns out, Rivers is probably right. While the 76ers can't say for sure that Embiid will get the green light to play on Wednesday yet, the team did list the All-Star center as probable on the injury report. While Embiid has missed his fair share of games this season, he has yet to miss several games in a row. Based on the injury report and his head coach's belief, it seems that will remain the case.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_