For at least one game, the Miami Heat will have one less player to worry about in its opening round of the NBA playoffs.
Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown confirmed Friday that star center Joel Embiid will be out for at least the first game of the best-of-7 series against the Miami Heat to open the NBA playoffs..
"He will not play in Game 1," Brown told The Dan Patrick Show on Friday. "From that point going forward, we'll figure some stuff out. But unless something remarkable happens ... I don't plan on him playing in Game 1."
Embiid has been inactive for the past eight games after suffering an orbital bone fracture on March 28 in an on-court collision with teammate Markelle Fultz.
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In 63 games this season, Embiid has averaged 22.9 points, 11 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 blocks over 30.3 minutes per game. He has scored at least 25 points in 25 games this season, including a season-high 46 points during a 115-109 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 15.
Embiid played in three of four regular-season games against the Heat, averaging 19 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and a block in about 30 minutes per game. The Heat went 1-2 in those three games but split the series overall 2-2.
With Embiid out, look for Amir Johnson to start at center for the 76ers when they tip off against the Heat at 8 p.m. Saturday from the Wells Fargo Center. Johnson has started each of the last eight games since Embiid was sidelined, averaging 6.6 points and 6.8 rebounds while playing about 22 minutes per game over that stretch.
While the timetable for Embiid's return is unclear, Brown has told reporters he expects his center to be back on the court "soon."
It also means Heat center Hassan Whtieside will have to wait until at least Game 2 of the series on Monday to clear up any bad blood between the two from their Twitter feud earlier in the season.