76ers’ Joel Embiid returning after knee surgery vs. Thunder: What this means for Philadelphia

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is expected to make his return to the court Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder after successful surgery on the lateral meniscus in his left knee in early February, the team announced. He had been sidelined since Jan. 30, when the Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga inadvertently fell on his leg, just below the knee.

Embiid took the court for his pregame workout to MVP chants and was wearing a brace on his left knee that was noticeable under his white tights.

The reigning NBA MVP averaged 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.8 blocks per game over 34 contests prior to his injury. Embiid’s points and assists are both on pace to be career highs. The 76ers went 11-18 in his absence.

Philadelphia is currently 40-35, eighth in the Eastern Conference and just 2 1/2 games behind the Indiana Pacers for the sixth seed in the conference to avoid the Play-In Tournament.

What Embiid’s return means for 76ers

Embiid’s return is obviously massive news for the 76ers. He’ll probably be on some kind of limit Tuesday but his return to the court, alone, should reignite a team that had been faltering and flailing lately. He’ll have about two weeks to ramp up for the playoffs.

That makes Philadelphia a rough draw if you’re one of the top two seeds. That could upend the first round altogether. Who wants to play a healthy Embiid and the Sixers in the first round? They’re still probably headed for the Play-In Tournament but their odds to play themselves into the playoffs just got a lot better. — Mike Vorkunov, NBA and basketball business staff writer

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(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE via Getty Images)

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