Both Joel Embiid and James Harden are listed as questionable for Wednesday’s matchup at home vs. the Mavericks.
Of the two players, it feels like Harden is more likely to make his return to the lineup.
Doc Rivers says he’s optimistic James Harden will be able to play Wednesday back in Philly against Dallas, but that he’s not sure where Joel Embiid will be with his calf by then.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) March 28, 2023
Harden was listed as questionable ahead of Monday’s loss and participated in shootaround. It was even reported that the 10-time All-Star was likely to make his return after missing the last three games with left Achilles soreness.
But as the the starters were about to be announced, The Beard was ultimately ruled out. Harden had been dealing with a left foot issue since mid-January. After struggling mightily in the Sixers’ double-overtime loss to the Bulls — a game in which he played a whopping 47 minutes — Harden’s ailment was listed as “left Achilles soreness” on the injury report.
Embiid has been dealing with right calf tightness he first felt in that double-overtime defeat last Monday. As you’ll recall, we didn’t learn about the injury until last Wednesday’s win in Chicago when Embiid sat out the entire second half and did not sit on the bench with his teammates.
Embiid went on to score 46 points against the Warriors Friday night in San Francisco in a tough loss. He played in Phoenix the very next night, looking like a compromised version of himself as the Suns took down the Sixers fairly easily.
And then of course was the MVP showdown that wasn’t. Embiid tried to give it a go Monday ahead of the Sixers’ matchup with two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, but sat out because of his balky calf.
The Sixers’ schedule has been absolutely grueling since the All-Star break. Aside from having the league’s most difficult strength of schedule coming out of the break, the Sixers spent the bulk of March on the road — and in condensed fashion. It feels like it’s all catching up to them.
A week ago, the Sixers had a (very) outside shot at the one seed. The two seed actually felt possible. Now, the fourth-place Cavs, who have a marshmallow schedule down the stretch, are just 1.5 games back.