Heat will have another chance to face Joel Embiid-less Sixers. Embiid ruled out for Game 2

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers puts his protective face mask prior to Game One of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoff against the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center on April 14, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The Heat will have another chance to face the Joel Embiid-less Sixers.

Embiid has been ruled out for Monday’s Game 2 as he continues to recover from surgery to repair an orbital bone fracture. But the Sixers also announced Sunday that their starting center did clear the NBA’s concussion protocol, which is a sign that he’s close to making a return.

Embiid, who averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 63 regular-season games, missed the final eight games of the regular season and Saturday’s Game 1 blowout win over the Heat with the injury. He will wear a mask when he returns.

Even without its All-Star center, Philadelphia has been playing well. The Sixers are 9-0 in the games Embiid has missed with this injury, including a 130-103 rout of the Heat to open the playoffs.

The 6-foot-9 Amir Johnson has started in Embiid’s place while he’s been out. Johnson struggled in Game 1 of the series, though, with two points on 1-of-7 shooting and seven rebounds in 22 minutes.

Sixers coach Brett Brown started Ersan Ilyasova , a 6-10 outside shooting forward, instead of Johnson in the second half of Saturday’s game. The move worked, as Ilyasova finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds and Philadelphia outscored Miami 74-43 over the final two quarters.

Heat center Hassan Whiteside was unable to take advantage of Embiid’s absence in Game 1. Whiteside recorded two points on 1-of-4 shooting, six rebounds and two blocks in just 12 minutes of action.

Embiid’s next opportunity to make his return will come in Thursday’s Game 3 in Miami.

[Hard to take solace from few bright spots for Heat when, as Dwyane Wade put it, ‘they beat our butt’]

[Why did Heat center Hassan Whiteside play just 12 minutes in Game 1?]

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