Joel Embiid returns to practice after surgery: ‘Next week, I’m hoping to play’

It’s been only two weeks since Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid underwent surgery on his left hand.

Yet on Friday, Embiid returned to practice with the Sixers without restriction and believes he can be back on the court sometime next week.

“Just trying to get back into it and make the progress that’s necessary,” Embiid said, via ESPN. “But I feel good … I think my finger feels good.”

Embiid tore a ligament in his left ring finger earlier this month against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and underwent surgery just days later. The team plans to evaluate him officially on Monday, meaning the earliest he could play again would be their game against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. They also have games next week against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday and the Boston Celtics on Saturday.

Though he knows he’s not quite there physically yet, Embiid is taking steps to make sure he gets there, including working out on both a bike and an elliptical to get his conditioning back up. He wore a protective device over his left hand in practice Friday, too, and plans to wear that when he makes his return, whenever that may be.

“Still getting used to it,” Embiid said, via ESPN. “From time to time, you get slapped on the hand, so going through practice and going through those scenarios and seeing how it goes and also getting back into it. 

“I had a little time off where I couldn’t do anything with the surgery, so probably a little bit winded, and have to get my conditioning back.”

Embiid has averaged 23.4 points and 12.3 rebounds per game this season in Philadelphia. The team has survived without him, going 5-3 since he went down, but currently sits in the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference and a full 11 games back from the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Sixers coach Brett Brown said Embiid’s return will make a huge impact.

“He just comes in with a spirit,” Brown said, via ESPN. “He was just named for the third straight year as a starter to the All-Star team. He's obviously highly gifted and highly important to what we do. To get him into the group and have him be around is significant."

After undergoing surgery on his left ring finger two weeks ago, Joel Embiid hopes to make his return next week. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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