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Joel Embiid return: Sixers star could be back Saturday vs. Timberwolves after extended COVID-19 absence

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After missing nearly three weeks¿ due to COVID-19, Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid could return to the lineup as soon as Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Embiid has been “ramping up” his conditioning this week for a comeback, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, which is surely great news for the Sixers.

Embiid tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 8, joining several other Sixers players who were already in the league’s health and safety protocols. Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe all missed time due to the virus, but Embiid’s absence has been felt the most as the team’s anchor on both ends of the floor. While Embiid’s been recovering from COVID-19, the Sixers have gone just 2-6 in his absence, and sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They face the Warriors on Wednesday night with their big man sidelined.

Getting Embiid back will be huge for a Sixers team that has been banged up over the past couple weeks. Seth Curry is currently day-to-day with a back injury, which has already caused him to miss one game. Danny Green is dealing with a hamstring injury, Harris returned from his COVID-19 bout only to then get slowed down by a hip injury. Then there’s still the Ben Simmons saga which has come no closer to any resolution.

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But despite all those injuries, the Sixers are still treading water with a 10-8 record, thanks to an 8-2 start to the season. Before Embiid was sidelined, the Sixers boasted the NBA‘s top offense, and were shooting a league-leading 39.4 percent from deep. 

However, when Embiid returns, he’ll be coming back to a team that hasn’t fared well without him, as the offense dropped to 15th in the league in his absence. But his production this season (21.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, four assists), will undoubtedly give Philadelphia a much-needed boost on both sides of the floor. 

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