Joel Embiid returns, scores 23 including key buckets late, 76ers top Thunder


Oklahoma City Thunder v Philadelphia 76ers

A game that could have been about all the stars sitting out — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, Tyrese Maxey — ended up being about the one who returned.

Joel Embiid was listed as out for this game 24 hours prior (after early reports of a comeback), but things changed fast on Tuesday and the reigning MVP suited up after missing 29 games due to meniscus surgery. It was an impressive first game back: 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists leading Philadelphia to a 109-105 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That’s not to say this was peak Embiid, he shot 6-14 from the floor and was gassed at the end of his nearly 30 minutes. Embiid had a white leg sleeve over a brace on his left knee and was clearly uncomfortable. He admitted postgame he’s put on some weight and needs to work himself back into shape.

“I gained a lot of weight, so I’m pretty fat right now, but it’s ok.”

Joel might’ve gained a few lbs while recovering from his injury but he didn’t let it stop him from helping get the Sixers a much-needed win Tuesday night.

— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 3, 2024

This, however, is why the 76ers wanted him back now, to play himself into shape before the playoffs and hopefully improve the team’s standing from the No. 8 seed. Philly fell that far with him out, going 11-18, but they are now 1-0 with Embiid back. Philly is 1.5 games back of No. 7 Miami (which also won Tuesday night) and two games back of the Pacers for the No. 6 seed. That may be too much ground to make up with six games to go, but what really matters is having Embiid healthy for the playoffs.

Kelly Oubre had 25 points while Tobias Harris hit five 3-pointers on his way to 18 for the 76ers in the win. Chet Holmgren led the Thunder with 22 points.

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Author : NBC Sports

Publish date : 2024-04-03 04:33:29

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