The 76ers front line, normally clouded in uncertainty and injury, got some clarity Saturday with the double-dose of encouraging news that Jahlil Okafor should be ready for the opener and Joel Embiid may be cleared to play in back-to-backs.
Okafor has not played in a preseason game, a restriction as part of the recovery from March 22 surgery on his right knee that ended his rookie campaign. But coach Brett Brown indicated Okafor should be available when Philadelphia opens at home against the Thunder on Oct. 26.
The Embiid update comes as the 76ers planned to increase his workload from 12 minutes at the start of the exhibition schedule to 15 against the Wizards on Thursday to the updated cap of 18 on Saturday night against the Pistons. Brown said he hoped Embiid would be ready for as many as 24 on opening night as Philadelphia continues to closely monitor his comeback after missing the last two seasons with foot problems.
The Sixers’ first back-to-back is Nov. 1-2. Embiid being cleared for that would be an important sign in the recovery.
Brown, however, also said a groin injury may keep Nerlens Noel, another Philly big man, out of the opener. This comes with No. 1 pick Ben Simmons sidelined indefinitely by a fractured left foot.