PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and James Harden were ruled out for Monday night’s Eastern Conference showdown against the Miami Heat due to nagging injuries.
Embiid, who entered Monday tied with LeBron James for the NBA lead in scoring (29.8 ppg), is nursing back soreness. The five-time All-Star, who is one of the frontrunners for the MVP award, has played in 58 games this season. He has made playing regularly a priority this season. The sixth-year center hasn’t played more than 64 games in a season. He missed nine contests in November due to health and safety protocols.
Harden has averaged 22.4 points, 10.5 assists and 7.0 rebounds in 11 games with the 76ers since being acquired from Brooklyn for Ben Simmons in a blockbuster trade last month. But a left hamstring injury kept Harden off the court in his final four games with the Nets and first four with the 76ers. Since then, the 10-time All-Star and former MVP has played in 11 of 12 games, missing only the 76ers’ 99-82 defeat at Miami on March 5.
He won’t be playing in the rematch, either, a potential Eastern Conference final preview. The Heat lead the East, 3½ games ahead of the third-place 76ers.
“We’re just being careful,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said before Monday’s game.
Rivers said Harden did not suffer a setback in his hamstring recovery.
Neither Embiid nor Harden looked right in Sunday night’s 93-88 home loss to Toronto. Embiid scored 21 points but needed 20 shots, missing 14, and failed to connect on any of his three 3-point tries. Harden had 17 points but went 5 for 12 from the field, including 0 for 4 from beyond the arc, and committed six turnovers. With the game on the line, Harden couldn’t deliver in crunch time, missing two free throws late and committing a Flagrant 1 offensive foul on another possession.
“I just got to be better, it’s simple,” Harden said after the defeat.
The star duo’s next opportunity to return to the court will be on Wednesday in Los Angeles, when the 76ers begin a three-game, road trip against the Lakers.
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