Nothing has changed yet as far as Joel Embiid's status for Game 3.
"He still remains doubtful," Sixers coach Brett Brown said before his team went through shootaround Thursday morning at AmercianAirlines Arena. "He went through stuff [Wednesday] that was decent. He had a little bit of contact, trying to get used to the mask, felt some bodies but at this stage, we’re listing him as doubtful."
"It’s a collaborative thing with Joel and doctors and me. It’s all this stuff. It revolves around comfort. I feel like we’re responsible with his health, those types of things."
Embiid, a 7-foot, 250-pound All-Star, has been out since March 28 with an orbital bone fracture near his left eye. The Heat, which host Game 3 of the first round playoff series at 7, has been preparing for Embiid's return since the series began.
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"He's getting there," Brown said. "To just let him go out there right now is still all on the table. You guys know what I know. He did some contact [Wednesday]. But you know, it's progressing. I don't feel like I can really share anything new. I'd be making stuff up."
▪ Brown said his team's confidence has not wavered since losing Game 2. He basically blames what happened in Game 2 on a really bad second quarter in which the Heat outscored Philadelphia 34-13.
"I think we all kind of just shut shop and watched the second period," Brown said. "We won the first period. We won the third period. We won the fourth period. We did terrible in the second period and I give Miami credit. I give them a lot of credit. Some of it was self-inflicted. So, all those things are true in regards to wanting more and trying to do better and hopefully we can make some more shots. But we should all zoom into the [second] period. It is the reason that we lost that game."
▪ The Sixers owned the sixth-best road record in the league (22-19) this season. Philadelphia was 10-4 on the road after the All-Star break with two of those losses against the Heat.
"If they have shown anything, they have shown a belief, they’ve shown a togetherness," Brown said. "I think there’s a mental toughness that has been emerging with this group the past month and a half, two months for sure since the All-Star Break. I feel like if you look at our ability to close out games and come back into games, we’ve shown that. I think those things will serve us well tonight. I am not intimidated by the road. Our guys, I think I speak as the coach of the team, we are not intimidated by the road. I think it’s going to bring an even higher level of togetherness in this group."
▪ Brown said there a few things the Sixers can do differently to try and slow down Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who had 28 points in Game 2.
"He kind of got all of our attention with sort of the ease he scored," Brown said. "When I go back and look at some of the shots he made, I don't have a problem with our hands, the contested shots. He made tough shots. It's the pace in which he got those shots that's always on my mind."
Said Sixers guard J.J. Redick: "The thing about their team it's not necessarily just one guy every night. They've have a very deep roster with a lot of guys capable of having big nights. I think D-Wade will be aggressive like he always is. But we also have to be cognizant [Goran] Dragic could have a big night. There's not just one guy we key on. It's a total team effort."
▪ Dragic's late layup in Game 2 bothered the Sixers including forward Robert Covington, who has spent most of his time in the series guarding Dragic. But has the series reached a level yet where nastiness permeates?
"We're not at the stage yet where you hate the other team or just despise them and you feel disgusted in their presence," Redick said. "That usually comes by Game 5 or 6. We're not there yet."
▪ Brown, a former assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, expressed his sympathy for Erin Popovich, the wife of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who passed away Wednesday after a long illness. She was 67.
"I've been with Pop a long time. I've known Erin Popovich a long time. Their family is wonderful," Brown said. "Their family has been incredibly kind to my family. She was a star, like a real star, just a very strong woman, somebody who will be missed."