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Brett Brown says it’s ‘always best’ to make a plan without Joel Embiid in it

Brett Brown, Joel Embiid

At least the Philadelphia 76ers have been in this position before.

Joel Embiid’s ability to avoid serious injury over the past three seasons has made it easy to forget that he was sidelined for the first two years of his career, with some wondering whether he would ever take the floor in the NBA. He played on a strict minutes restriction in 2016-17, and missed small chunks of the schedule with nagging pain each of the last two seasons. It was just this time last year when Embiid’s availability for first-round playoff games was largely unknown, too, after he suffered a broken left eye socket late in the regular season.

His ongoing injury situation, basically, is hardly foreign to the Sixers. Philadelphia coach Brett Brown has even developed the ability over the years to sense Embiid’s mood before games in which he may or may not be able to play. Regardless, in those instances, the Sixers routinely plan as if their superstar big man won’t be available.

“The timing of [Thursday], I always have sort of my gut feels of what’s going to happen and judgment of how I really feel he’s feeling and so on,” Brett Brown said of Embiid, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s born out of talking with Joel, really, and you obviously listen to our medical staff. And so I wasn’t caught off guard [in Game 3] and as it relates to [Game 4], I don’t know and I really don’t have a gut feel.

“So, to me, it’s always best to plan that you don’t have him and be really surprised and happy when you do.”

Embiid is officially listed as doubtful to play for Saturday’s matinee at Barclays Center. He missed Game 3, a Philadelphia victory, while dealing with tendonitis in his left knee that cost him five of the last seven games of the regular season, and severaly limited him in the series-opener.

Game 4 tips off at 3:00 p.m. EST.