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January 12, 2017

Embiid probable for Friday’s game, which leaves minutes for Okafor on back-to-back

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It didn’t appear to be affecting him all that much after T.J. McConnell’s shot gave the Sixers a walk-off win, but Joel Embiid did suffer a left ankle sprain during the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the New York Knicks.

Embiid returned to score 21 points and pull down 14 rebounds in 27 minutes, winning the head-to-head battle with fellow “unicorn” Kristaps Porzingis for at least one night. But Embiid’s health status is always a hot-button topic in Sixers land, so checking in with him at practice the next day was always going to be of some importance.

The verdict is that Embiid didn’t practice on Thursday, but he’s listed as probable for Friday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets at home. But as has been the case all season, the 22-year-old big man won’t play in the second leg of the back-to-back in Washington on Saturday night.

“It’s just a decision that we make,” Brett Brown told reporters on hand at the team’s practice facility today. “We like when we can play him at home. It’s not the complete marching orders, there’s a rhythm what we’re doing, that’s part of it.”

That could potentially open up some minutes on Saturday night for Jahlil Okafor, who has played 10 minutes (a disastrous 10 minutes at that) in the team’s last five games. In those five games, the Sixers are 4-1 with a close loss to a playoff team in Boston.

Both Brown and Okafor said that they expect the second-year big man to play on Saturday.

“My confidence has never wavered,” Okafor told reporters at practice. “I’ve been doing this my entire life and I’ve been very successful doing this as well. Knowing who I am, keep working hard and doing as much as I can to stay ready.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann