Sixers Feel a Sense of Relief After Receiving Joel Embiid's Injury Update

Justin Grasso

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- There's been a lot of talk this past week about the Philadelphia 76ers and their not-so-surprising injury report. While it's quite unfortunate, the Sixers are a team that's typically known to have a notable amount of injuries on board.

Part of that is because of their All-Star center, Joel Embiid. While Embiid is easily one of the most talented all-around players in the NBA, his durability is undoubtedly his poorest quality as a player in the league.

Four years into his career and the Sixers' big man has yet to play in at least 65 games during the regular season. At this point, Embiid is on pace to miss that mark once again, as he has only played in 43 of 60 games this season. Load management, a suspension, and multiple injuries have sidelined Embiid this season.

Just last month, the big man missed around three week's worth of games due to a torn ligament in his hand, which required surgery. And just as Embiid was getting back to his old self by consistently dominating while healthy, the All-Star found himself injured yet again.

This time, it's Embiid's shoulder that will keep him off the court for the time being. The injury occurred on Wednesday night as the Sixers paid a visit to Cleveland. After colliding with Cavaliers center Ante Zizic, Embiid kept on grabbing at his shoulder, showing that he was visibly in pain.

Brett Brown didn't hesitate to call Embiid off the court, and the Sixers' medical team was ready to take him straight to the locker room. Although Embiid showed signs of potentially returning, the Sixers eventually ruled the center out for the remainder of the matchup.

An initial X-ray on Wednesday night revealed nothing related to a fracture. So the Sixers called it a shoulder sprain. After being ruled out for Thursday's game against the Knicks to undergo further evaluations, Embiid and the Sixers found out that their initial diagnosis was correct. He has a shoulder sprain -- no fractures or structural damage.

That's good news for Embiid and the Sixers. However, as always, with injuries, there's typically bad news to follow. For the next week, the Sixers will be forced to roll without Embiid as the team takes on a tough four-game road trip on the west coast.

Although the Sixers are bummed to be without two of their All-Stars for a difficult stretch, Brett Brown is still happy to hear his center isn't dealing with anything too serious. "Of course [I'm relieved]," Brown said on Thursday night after hearing the update.

"And [the relief] is as much from a personal standpoint, as it is from a selfish coach that's looking forward to this final third," Coach Brown continued. "For how long [is he out]? We'll figure it out. But to learn there's no structural damage from his perspective and the team's perspective is exciting news."

A Sixers' spokesperson on Thursday night mentioned Embiid's injury is considered to be "symptom-based." Therefore, they cannot put an official timeline for return until they see how everything looks and feels in one week when the re-evaluation comes about. There's hope Embiid can make it back in time for the back-end of this road trip, but that's far from a guarantee. If he's not ready, they surely won't rush him.

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

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