Embiid still with steps to clear, Lowry upgraded to questionable for Game 3

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The Sixers on Thursday night listed Joel Embiid as out on their initial injury report for Game 3 of the team’s second-round series against the Heat.

That designation is consistent with head coach Doc Rivers’ recent comments on Embiid’s status. Rivers said Wednesday that he’d spoken through FaceTime with Embiid from Miami, where the Sixers lost the series’ first two games.

“He looked good as far as talking, but he’s got so many steps to go through,” Rivers said. “I don’t think he’s cleared any of them right now, so we just have to wait and see.”

Rivers told reporters Thursday that Embiid still had hurdles to clear.

Concussions are distinct in that players must pass through league protocol before being permitted to play. While the Sixers have sounded cautiously optimistic in recent days about Embiid’s potential return, a player can’t “play through” a concussion the way he can with other injuries.

Embiid also has a right orbital fracture and torn ligament in his right thumb.

Broadly speaking, official injury reports don’t mean everything in the playoffs. In the Sixers’ first-round series against the Raptors, multiple Toronto players listed as “doubtful” went on to play. The initial injury report is not at all set in stone.

With that said, Miami upgraded Kyle Lowry (left hamstring strain) to questionable. The 36-year-old Philadelphia native has missed four games in a row, but the Heat have won all of them. Gabe Vincent has started in Lowry’s place, while the Tyler Herro-Victor Oladipo duo combined for 37 points on 12-for-21 shooting off the bench in Game 2.

Miami also listed Vincent, Herro, P.J. Tucker, Max Strus and Caleb Martin as questionable. The Heat routinely will give players a “questionable” label, then say they are “warming up with the intent to play" a little under two hours before tip-off.

Some of the Sixers’ woeful shooting (21.9 percent from three-point range in the series) without Embiid isn’t about him — wide-open bricks are wide-open bricks — but they’ve been decidedly more challenged in many areas.

Instead of an MVP finalist, the Sixers have started DeAndre Jordan. Paul Reed got a season-high 25 minutes in Game 2. The one occasion Reed had played more in the NBA was a Jan. 9 game against the Nuggets his rookie year in which only seven Sixers were available.

“I think they’re just fighting, both of them,” Rivers said Wednesday night. “We got off to a good start today and then (Miami) went on a run. Listen, they’re doing their best. You can’t blame DJ, you can’t blame Paul. They’re doing their best and as a coach, that’s all you can ask from those guys. They’re fighting their butts off. That’s what you want. That’s what I would want, if I was a fan.”

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