76ers hold 'optimism' Embiid will return Saturday vs. T-wolves
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Report: 76ers hold 'optimism' that star Joel Embiid will return Saturday vs. Timberwolves

Few teams in the NBA have been bitten by the bug of notable player absences this season like the Philadelphia 76ers. All five members of their starting lineup from June's stunning Game 7 Eastern Conference Semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks are still members of the franchise, but each part of their "Big 3" of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris have missed significant time.

In Simmons' case, he hasn't even stepped foot on the court for a single game and appears miles away from doing so, while Harris has been limited to appearing in just 11 of the team's first 18 games due to injury and testing positive for COVID-19. Embiid has been sidelined for nearly the entire month after testing positive for COVID-19 in early November, but appears close to returning to the lineup.

The only members of the Sixers to play in all 18 games this season have been second-year point guard Tyrese Maxey and newcomer Georges Niang. Furkan Korkmaz and Andre Drummond have only missed one game apiece, while Seth Curry has been stellar in his 16 starts, but third-year defensive pest Matisse Thybulle, second-year pro Isaiah Joe and veteran sharpshooter Danny Green have all missed seven games.

When healthy, Embiid has been his usual dominant self, as he's averaged 21.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.4 blocks and 30.9 minutes across his nine contests.

The Sixers will take on the NBA-best Golden State Warriors at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Victor Barbosa is a passionate follower of MLB, the NBA and NFL, with a specific interest in the Boston-area teams. As a 90s kid, he knows how spoiled he's been, particularly with the BoSox run of championships (he grew up with a dog named Nomar and a cat named Big Papi). Now he lives with his fiancee and two pups (Hershey and Mosby) outside of Albany, NY. Follow Victor on Twitter at @vbarbosa1127.

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