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On Thursday night, the Philadelphia 76ers faced the Chicago Bulls without their starting center, Joel Embiid. As Embiid was in the NBA's health and safety protocol due to COVID-19 contact tracing, he wasn't a part of the trip to Chicago as he had to remain quarantined for seven days.

Without Embiid, the Sixers started Tony Bradley at center and had Dwight Howard remain in his role as the backup. Bradley put on an impressive performance as he went 7-for-7 from the field and scored 14 points. 

Howard, on the other hand, dominated coming off the bench as he put up 18 points. The outstanding performance from the duo of bigs helped the Sixers snag a win on the road over the Bulls to start the second half of the season off right.

On Friday, Joel Embiid's quarantine was finally lifted. So, the big man traveled to Washington D.C. and was cleared to play against the Washington Wizards. Embiid hardly looked rusty through the first half as he was dominating down low for the 76ers as he typically does.

However, in the third quarter, the big man went down a knee injury during a dunk attempt. It was a scary sight for the Sixers, who had to watch their MVP candidate on the ground in pain holding his knee. Embiid managed to get up and walk off the court on his own, but he had a noticeable limp. It was tough not to think about, but the game proceeded, and the 76ers had to close it out with a victory.

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Once again, in Embiid's absence, the Sixers looked fine with Tony Bradley and Dwight Howard on the floor. Although they already had a large lead before Embiid left, the 76ers still managed to keep the blowout going and took care of business by defeating the Wizards 127-101 on Friday night. 

As expected, the Sixers were worried about the status of Embiid after the game. However, veteran forward Tobias Harris is confident that when Embiid misses time, the team will be able to hold their own at the center position.

While Bradley might start for the Sixers in the couple of weeks Embiid is expected to miss, Dwight Howard will be the guy who is expected to take his leadership up another notch while the MVP candidate is out.

“When you just look at his body of work through his whole career and kind of how he recreated his game in his last two years in the league, Dwight’s a great leader for our team,” said Tobias Harris on Friday night. “There’s a lot of things that he does behind the scenes in team meetings and team get-togethers and in the huddles that is always encouraging guys.”

"The last few games, you’re just seeing all that come together, and he’s been playing great basketball for us, and he has been all year. That’s just really what we expect of him. Even in the Chicago game, we’re out there watching; I was like, ‘dang like this is, this is like primetime Dwight right now that we’re seeing.' So, it’s great to see.”

Joel Embiid will be re-evaluated in two weeks. In the meantime, the Sixers will lean on Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley. While filling Embiid's shoes would be difficult for any player in the league, Harris and the rest of the Sixers' roster are confident that Howard and Bradley can do a serviceable job while others rally around them.

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