Philadelphia 76ers optimistic Joel Embiid could return in regular season

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Philadelphia 76ers optimistic Joel Embiid could return in regular season
Injured Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid dribbles the ball during a timeout in the second quarter against the LA Clippers at Wells Fargo Center
Injured Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid dribbles the ball during a timeout in the second quarter against the LA Clippers at Wells Fargo Center
Bill Streicher - USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid (30) is inching closer to a return before the end of the regular season, coach Nick Nurse (56) said Wednesday.

Embiid has been sidelined with a left knee injury sustained when the Golden State Warriors' Jonathan Kuminga (21) fell on him in a January 30th game. Embiid underwent a procedure to fix the damage to his knee on February 6th.

Nurse said ahead of the team's game against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, "I think there's a very good likelihood that he will return before the play-in, playoff."

Nurse added, "He's on the court... and we still don't have a timeline for his return. I would imagine he's getting better each day. It's just trying to get him strong and confident and in shape and ramped up and all those wonderful words."

The 76ers own a 26-8 record with Embiid on the floor this season. Without him, they were 13-25 entering play on Wednesday, 10-16 since Embiid got hurt on January 30th.

Embiid is the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player. His average of 35.3 points per game this season would lead the league if he had played in enough games to qualify, and his rate of 11.3 rebounds per contest would rank among the top 10.

Nurse also gave updates on Robert Covington (33), out since the start of the new year due to a knee injury, and De'Anthony Melton (25), sidelined since late February because of a back ailment.

"Cov is progressing," Nurse said. "Looks like he could make a return here at some point. ... Melt is probably not as close yet. He's still kind of on a pain-tolerance thing. But again, we're kind of hopeful that both of them will be back at some point before this regular season ends."

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