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Nick Nurse Dishes Latest on Joel Embiid Before Sixers vs. Suns

Could the Philadelphia 76ers get Joel Embiid back in the mix soon?

The return of Joel Embiid remains a mystery for the Philadelphia 76ers.

At first, there was speculation that a best-case scenario would be Embiid returning to action towards the end of March. Lately, several reports have hinted Embiid could be back on the floor in April before the Sixers reach playoff time.

Last weekend, Sixers head coach Nick Nurse made it clear that reports from Embiid’s doctors have been nothing but positive. The following day, the big man was able to practice in a limited capacity. 

As expected, Embiid remains out of action as the Sixers embark on a road trip out West. When the Sixers faced the Phoenix Suns, Embiid missed his 23rd game in a row. Prior to the matchup, Nurse once again discussed the state of the big man’s recovery.

“We had a non-contact practice and he was able to go through that,” the head coach told reporters in Phoenix on Wednesday. “We have always said that we hope he’s going to get back to play. He is on the court — I don’t want to say daily — but almost every day now where he’s on the court doing basketball things. All of the check-ups have been positive. He’s kind of in the ramp-up phase.”

A lot of boxes need to be checked before Embiid can toss on his uniform and face some live competition. According to Nurse, the steps include dealing with contact, playing one-on-one, playing five-on-five, and getting through a full practice that involves contact. Once Embiid can get through those stages, Nurse believes he’ll be “really close” to returning.

After a loss in Phoenix, the Sixers have 13 games left on the schedule. They remain in the playoff hunt, but a 38-31 record has them in Play-In territory. The best-case scenario would involve the Sixers knowing they have a seat in the playoffs and could bring Embiid back for the run, with hopes of him returning to MVP form during the most important stretch of the year.

Right now, nothing is guaranteed for Philadelphia, including a return to action for the big man. While he’s moving in the right direction at this point, Embiid has to clear some hurdles before getting back in action.