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Could Sixers' Joel Embiid play vs Heat despite being declared out?
New Jersey Local | 6 days ago

The Sixers declared Joel Embiid as "out" for Saturday night's playoff-opening game against the Miami Heat in Philadelphia, but does that mean he's definitely out?

After all, on Friday Embiid posted a video on Instagram where the area around his eye looked as though it had healed significantly since he suffered a fractured orbital bone on March 28 when he and Markelle Fultz collided during a game against the Knicks. Embiid has since missed the Sixers' last eight games.

Embiid participated in the individualized non-contact portion of practice on Friday, and was also seen working out at the Sixers' practice facility with his personal trainer.

Still, he was declared out and Sixers coach Brett Brown declined to commit to the possibility of Embiid being available at all in the first round, per The Athletic's Derek Bodner.

With Embiid, though, his health status hasn't always been as simple as a declaration on an injury report.

At various points this season, Embiid's game status had been in doubt up through pre-game warm-ups. Before one game this season against the Spurs, Brown declared Embiid "very doubtful" at his pre-game press conference, the Sixers followed up by declaring him out. He wound up playing, and had 21 points and 11 rebounds in a win. Embiid was battling a hand injury at the time.

(Note: The Sixers didn't break any rules in this instance, as Embiid was reported as doubtful the night before the game anyway.)

Could the Sixers do something like that, in Game 1 of the playoffs, and play him anyway?

A Sixers spokesman told NJ Advance Media on Friday that if Embiid is cleared and deemed healthy enough to participate that he's "fairly certain he'll be allowed to play."

The determinant factor, the Sixers spokesman said, is the NBA's "active list." As long as Embiid is listed as active -- each team can carry a maximum of 15 active players -- he technically would be able to still play in Saturday's game. If the Sixers list him as inactive, he won't be allowed to play under any circumstance.

The active/inactive list is a separate entity from the team's official injury report.

As such, if Embiid does play on Saturday night despite already being declared out, one league official told NJ Advance Media "it would probably raise some eyebrows pretty high" in the league office.

The NBA doesn't necessarily have official rules as it relates to reporting injuries before games. However, the league strongly insists that teams need to follow the injury reporting guidelines -- which were created about five years ago -- according to the league official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Teams are required to submit an official injury report to the league office via e-mail by 5 p.m. the day before a game, using four possible designations: out, doubtful, questionable or probable.

Really, though, it's a binary system -- if a player is out, he should be held out. If he's listed as anything else -- doubtful, questionable or probable -- he's fine either way, regardless of designation.

(In terms of the injury reporting deadline, the rules are different when games occur on back-to-back nights. There won't be any back-to-backs during the playoffs, though.)

The league hasn't had much issue with these rules since beginning to employ them five years ago -- it's not as hard and fast of a rule as the NFL uses on injury reporting, the league official said. The NFL threatens fines to teams who lie or provide inaccurate information on official injury reports.

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