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Joel Embiid cleared for non-contact conditioning drills; to be evaluated in a week

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Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Sixers handled business last night at home against the Brooklyn Nets. And today they got a bit of good news. According to Serena Winters of NBCS-Philly, the All-Star center has been cleared for non-contact conditioning drills, following successful surgery on a torn ligament his left ring finger. It was reported that Joel Embiid suffered a torn radial collateral ligament in the fourth metacarpal in his left hand by Tim Bontemps of ESPN on January 9th. Since then he underwent surgery in New York and was left without a timetable for return. This news, at least suggests positive development. He’ll be re-evaluated in about a week and we can expect an update then.

Sixers fans know from last season that when Joel misses significant time with injury his conditioning may suffer. Not being in the day-to-day of practice routines, and not being in game shape can make a transition back to big minutes less than smooth. So being cleared to run some drills should at least help him maintain some cardiovascular baseline.

Al Horford should continue to take on a larger role without Embiid. Horford has struggled and is shooting a career low 44.9% from the field and career low .523 ts% with his new team. Coach Brett Brown probably can’t afford to buy Horford the appropriate rest or load management he appears to need because Embiid is on the shelf. But some extra rest might be the best thing for the 33 year old center and former Celtic. He hasn’t looked quite right this season. Despite the team’s struggles, they’re just 3 full games behind Miami for the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

There will be plenty to learn about the Sixers healthy starters and rotation players. GM Elton Brand may be currently evaluating the trade market and Coach Brown is likely considering who his closers will be for the playoffs. They have been without Embiid before, but it’s never as pretty as when their defensive anchor and leading scorer is active.