Heading into the Sixers‘ season opener on Wednesday, Joel Embiid was only expected to receive between 15 and 20 minutes of playing time, prompting the fourth-year center to sound off with his thoughts on the minutes restriction.
However, prior to tip-off, head coach Brett Brown suggested that Embiid’s minutes limit could increase quickly (Twitter link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer), and Brown made good on that statement just hours later. Embiid played 27 minutes in the Sixers’ opener against Washington, which surprised the former third overall pick.
Having successfully pushed to increase his minutes – for at least one game – Embiid is now hopeful that he’ll be cleared to participate in back-to-back games, as Pompey writes at Philly.com. The Sixers’ first set of back-to-back games will take place this weekend, as the team hosts Boston on Friday before heading to Toronto for a Saturday contest.
“Yesterday I played, and my body feels great today,” the Sixers’ star center said on Thursday. “My knee feels amazing. So I feel like if I have to play today, I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready.”
As we wait to see how the 76ers handle Embiid, let’s check in on a few more Atlantic notes…
- Asked about Gordon Hayward‘s potential return, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on Thursday that it’s too early to put a timetable on the forward’s recovery, as Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald details. “I think it’s just safe to say that we’re not counting on him this year and go from there,” Ainge said. “Just take the pressure off him and let him heal correctly is the most important thing and not even really talk about when he should return to play. That’ll work itself out over time.”
- Ainge, who said the Celtics are exploring possible roster additions, added that the club is “not in a major rush” to make any moves, per Bulpett.
- Brian Lewis of The New York Post spoke to orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Gladstone about the outlook for Nets guard Jeremy Lin‘s recovery from his season-ending knee injury.
- The Raptors will face an interesting balancing act this season as they focus on both short-term success and long-term development of their younger players, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. That balancing act got off to a promising start on Thursday, with youngsters like Delon Wright and OG Anunoby playing key roles in Toronto’s win over Chicago.