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Joel Embiid hoping to return Wednesday vs. Pistons

Sixers, Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid is hopeful to return on Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Embiid has been sidelined since suffering a sprained left shoulder, missing the last four games since Feb. 26.

That means Embiid will miss Saturday’s showdown against the Golden State Warriors as well, making that five straight absences and a total of 21 games missed through the Sixers’ 63 games.

Embiid was initially hoping to play closer to 70 games, but that ship sailed earlier this season, as the 7-footer battled a myriad of injuries through the course of 2019-20. After playing just 31 games in his rookie season, he played in 63 games in 2017-18 and 64 games last season.

The Sixers are also without All-Star forward Ben Simmons, who could miss some extended time until doctors can accurately diagnose his back injury. Philadelphia is reportedly preparing to be without him for the next few weeks, hoping they can get him back in time for a playoff run.

The team snapped a 15-game skid on the road after Thursday’s win over the Sacramento Kings, but the Sixers must prove they can win games on the road before they can be trusted in the postseason.

Should Embiid return on Wednesday, the Sixers will have only 18 games to play with Embiid and it’s hard to envision the big man playing in all of them. Philly also has three back-to-backs left, which one would assume would mean Embiid would sit out in at least a couple of them to avoid further fatigue.

With only a half-game lead over the Indiana Pacers for the fifth spot and 2.5 games away from the fourth seed, the 76ers’ margin for error is rather slim, even with Embiid back on the floor next week.