On Wednesday and Thursday, Nick Nurse and the Sixers provided the first real (sort of) update on Joel Embiid’s potential return before the end of the regular season.

Nurse provides optimism 

Before their game against the Clippers, Nick Nurse expressed his optimism that Joel Embiid will be back before the end of the regular season. Embiid is seven weeks removed from having surgery on his left knee, and since then, the Sixers have gone 10-18, falling to 8th place in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers’ current position would change greatly if Embiid can return within the next eight games. However, Nurse reiterated that there is still no timeline for his return, and he will provide an update when Embiid progresses to more contact practice. That being said, he is continuing to do on-court work. 

Adrian Wojnarowski followed Nurse’s comments, stating that Embiid will likely be back in action within the next few weeks. It’s no longer a question of if but when he will return, and the belief is he will be back to play a handful of the team’s final games before the playoffs. Woj said he was told that Embiid is moving well and has looked good on the court. 

If all of these updates don’t have you feeling hopeful about Embiid’s return to play soon, the one from Thursday certainly will.

Back to Work

Joel Embiid participated in practice on Thursday for the first time since January. The news dropped from the Sixers’ Twitter account, where they teased a picture of Embiid getting shots up. He’s not yet playing 5-on-5 or taking any contact. However, he did participate in the team’s light practice, where he went through skill work against other players. 

Embiid’s teammates seem encouraged as well by his progression. Paul Reed said on Thursday that he feels Embiid is ready to come back pretty soon. He added that getting him ready for the playoffs is the top team priority. 

The other positive news from Thursday is that Embiid traveled with the team on their two-game road trip to Cleveland and Toronto. While Embiid will not play during the road trip, it is an excellent sign for his return. This shows that Embiid has hit the phase of his recovery where it is better to have him get work in with the team than stay at home and rehab. His presence on the road will also spark a huge lift for a team struggling to find ways to win. Reed is excited about Embiid joining them, stating, “He’s been our leader and main guy all season. I’m pretty sure everybody is going to feed off him.”

After their current two-game trip, the Sixers will host the Thunder next Tuesday before heading on a three-game road trip against Miami, Memphis, and San Antonio to then return home to play their final three games of the season against Detroit, Orlando, and Brooklyn.

All updates from this past week are encouraging, leading us to believe that when he gives the thumbs up, Joel can be back before those eight games are up. Though it feels unlikely, Embiid’s earliest estimated return is against the Thunder.

Photo: Jason Miller/GettyImages 

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