Embiid’s return questionable for Saturday’s matchup against Golden State

Knee soreness isn’t a major issue, but it is a major red flag for Philly fans. It should be a scary sign that Joel Embiid’s return for Saturday hangs in the balance of a single evaluation.

Embiid has been out since the All-Star break. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it wasn’t for the type of injury he’s dealing with. Over the years, the Kansas product has been injury prone, especially in the lower half of his body.

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This injury wouldn’t be that significant if it wasn’t a part of a long injury history for the 7-foot center. The Sixers need him to push past the other Eastern Conference powerhouses.

Fans will have to watch Thursday night’s game against Oklahoma City without Embiid as he reports to physical therapy. He will also be evaluated prior to Saturday’s game against Golden State.

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This evaluation will determine if fans get to see the powerhouse match-up they’ve been waiting for, Embiid vs Cousins.

Watching two centers battle it out is truly a thing of beauty, especially when the two teams playing could very likely meet again in June.

Injuries can’t stop Embiid from being the center of the basketball world:

Who will step up until Embiid’s return?

If it isn’t obvious to most fans, Philly doesn’t have much depth at center. Luckily the team acquired the 7’3 Boban Marjanovic before the trade deadline.

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The only problem is Marjanovic is also suffering from an injury. After an MRI earlier this week, doctors concluded that he was only suffering from a contusion. The contusion, or bone bruise, is on his knee which is not a great injury for somebody so tall.

Going forward, he will most likely be recovering from injury until Embiid’s return. This means there is one center left on the team to pick up the slack left behind from the two Philly big men.

His name is Jonah Bolden and he’s exactly what Philly needs right now. For the past two seasons, Bolden has played between the G-League and the Sixers roster. This season was his first to play actual minutes.

While he is only 6 foot 10, he has a long wingspan that keeps him active on the glass and gives him great shot blocking ability.

He doesn’t provide nearly the same offensive load that Embiid does but he isn’t useless around the rim either. In a close game against New Orleans on Monday night, Bolden had nine points and pulled down six rebounds in 18 minutes.

The UCLA product has waited patiently for his time to shine, and until Embiid’s return, this might be it.

Bolden showed off some of his offensive arsenal against the Pelicans on Monday night:

Jimmy ‘Buckets’ needs some buckets!

Of all the players on the Sixers roster, nobody expected Butler to shrink so much. Recently, Jimmy ‘Buckets’ has been almost non-existent.

Other than a 22 point game in a loss against Boston, he hasn’t been doing much. He had 11 points against the Pelicans and shot an abysmal 5-for-16 from the field.

This has been a trend for Butler, who seems to shrink under the bright lights. Or maybe its the bright lights of the new roster that are causing him to play so poorly.

New addition Tobias Harris dropped 29 points against New Orleans, and he just joined the team before the All-Star break.

If this is a consistent theme going forward, Philly will have to win without much production from Butler. This is a daunting task, especially since Embiid’s return might not be for another week.

There is a reason Elton Brand took a flyer on Butler, and he hasn’t really shown why since his first few games with the team.

If the former Timberwolf can’t get things going soon, Embiid’s injury won’t be the only factor stopping the Sixers from competing in June.

Fans have been starting to notice Butler’s lack of success on the court:

All stats via Basketball-reference.com
Featured Image: Keith Allison via Flickr.com