Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid has cleared concussion protocols following a blow to the face late in last week's first-round series-clinching blowout victory against the Toronto Raptors.
Still dealing with an orbital fracture, Embiid was listed as out for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat as late as Friday evening, but was confirmed to be starting minutes before tip-off.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said Embiid's minutes could be limited due to his lack of work in the last week, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Embiid will also don a protective mask.
Embiid has experience playing with such a mask, having worn one while playing with a fractured orbital bone during the 2018 playoffs, when the Sixers lost to the Boston Celtics in a second-round series.
The Heat won the first two games of the conference semifinals by double digits in Embiid's absence. Miami center Bam Adebayo has averaged 23.5 points on 71.4% shooting and 10.5 rebounds against the 76ers' backup options, which include past-his-prime veteran DeAndre Jordan and second-year big Paul Reed.
Embiid averaged a league-leading 30.6 points per game (50/37/81 shooting splits), 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.6 combined blocks and steals in 33.8 minutes per game during the regular season. Given teammate James Harden's struggles, Embiid represents Philadelphia's last hope of beating the Heat.
The 7-foot, 280-pound MVP candidate is no stranger to playing through injury. Embiid tore a ligament in his shooting thumb in Game 3 against the Raptors and played until he took an elbow to the face from Toronto's Pascal Siakam with four minutes left in Game 6. The 28-year-old also played the entirety of Philadelphia's conference semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks last season with a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.
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