NBA

Rivers dispels Harden and Embiid injury fears despite MVP candidate's early exit

By Sports Desk March 23, 2023

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rovers has no long-term injury concerns over James Harden and Joel Embiid, despite the latter sitting out the second half of Wednesday's 116-91 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Harden missed the game due to Achilles soreness, while MVP candidate Embiid played a season-low 16 minutes, scoring 12 points with seven rebounds and seven assists.

The 76ers were up 76-48 at half-time, completing a routine win, with Rivers stating Embiid's early exit was out of caution from a minor calf issue.

"We've gone in the playoffs two years in a row with injuries and we all know you don't win in the playoffs when your key guys aren't healthy," Rivers told reporters. "So we're going to do whatever we can to be healthy."

Rivers indicated he expected both Harden and Embiid to be available for Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

Embiid's half-time exit meant he snapped his 10-game streak of 30-point games, which was a franchise record.

The 76ers center said he initially injured his calf during Monday's 109-105 overtime loss to the Bulls and opted to take the cautious route when he felt some discomfort on Wednesday.

"We've already clinched the playoffs, it's all about making sure we're going to be healthy for them," Embiid said. "If it feels good, of course I want to play, but if it's not right, then we gone figure it out."

Harden had struggled in Monday's loss, shooting two-of-14 in 46 minutes for five points. Rivers said Harden felt some foot discomfort during that game, leading to the decision to rest him on Wednesday.

"No concerns," Rivers said. "It just flared up a couple times and we decided instead of doing the back-and-forth, the dance, let's just sit him down, get him rest and make sure he's right."

The 76ers are third in the Eastern Conference with a 49-23 record, battling it out with the second-placed Boston Celtics (50-23) for the second seed. The two rivals are due to meet in a crunch clash on April 4.

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