Embiid ‘feeling a lot better,' Lowry still sidelined with hamstring injury


MIAMI — As expected, the kitchen sink was a worse center option Monday night than Joel Embiid.

The MVP finalist’s absence remains conspicuous after a Game 1 Sixers loss to the Heat in which head coach Doc Rivers started DeAndre Jordan and played an 11-man rotation.

Rivers was positive but cautious late Tuesday morning when asked about Embiid’s progression through the NBA’s concussion protocol.

“I know he did something yesterday, but not much. And I know he’s feeling a lot better. I don’t want to give false hope either, so I’ll just stop there,” Rivers said prior to the Sixers’ film session.

In addition to a concussion, Embiid suffered a right orbital fracture last Thursday during the Sixers' Game 6 win over the Raptors.

Miami again ruled Kyle Lowry out for Sixers-Heat Game 2 with a left hamstring strain. Gabe Vincent started Game 1 in his place and posted 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting (1 for 7 from three-point range), three assists and three rebounds.

The Sixers expect to improve upon a 6-for-34 performance from long distance that included an 0-for-7 showing by Georges Niang and a 1-for-6 evening by Tyrese Maxey, players that shot over 40 percent on threes during the regular season. The Heat also might be due for a marked shooting jump, though. Miami went 9 for 36 from three-point territory and the Vincent-Max Strus starting backcourt was a combined 2 for 14.

As was the case leading into the series opener, Vincent, Strus, P.J. Tucker, Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin are listed as questionable. Those players all “warmed up with the intent to play” Monday night and were unsurprisingly good to go in Game 1.

The Heat said Jimmy Butler missed the team’s Tuesday practice with an excused absence but “has come off the injured list.” Butler had previously been questionable with right knee inflammation.

An optimistic outlook before Game 2 is that Rivers and the Sixers will refine their game plan, trim away a few mistakes, and respond like the team that earned the Eastern Conference’s best road record.

But Rivers was candid Tuesday in not chalking up the Game 1 loss simply to misfiring on open jumpers and playing without a dominant big man.

The Sixers committed seven first-quarter turnovers, four more than the team’s total from Game 1 of its first-round series against Toronto, and allowed 15 offensive rebounds.

“The biggest adjustment for us is taking care of the darn ball,” Rivers said. “But that’s being organized, being in the right spots, running the offense correctly. What was disappointing is we anticipated it; we were supposed to be in those spots.

“And then to get in the game and let their pressure take us out of that was really, at least for me not disheartening, but really troubling. You never know why that happens, but it does. And then just rebounding as a group — 50-50 balls. I thought they won everything in that.”

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