Joel Embiid expected to return from knee injury this weekend

Joel Embiid's return appears to be just around the corner for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The team announced Wednesday that Embiid, who has been out nearly three weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee, has responded well to on-court work and conditioning and is expected to return this week. An additional update is scheduled for Friday.

The Sixers have two games this weekend, facing the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday and the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports Embiid is expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday.

Embiid's injury occurred on March 12, when he awkwardly fell after a dunk. An MRI later found he sustained no ligament damage in the knee, but did have a bone bruise.

The Sixers have gone 6-3 since Embiid's injury, but have have fallen to the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets in their two most recent games. At 32-15, the team sits in a tie with the Brooklyn Nets for first place in the Eastern Conference before Wednesday's games.

Embiid returning will obviously be beneficial for the Sixers, and it could also bring some clarity back into the MVP race. Embiid was widely seen as the frontrunner for the award when he went down with the injury, and only missing three weeks could allow him to remain in contention, especially after LeBron James' high ankle sprain.

Embiid is averaging 29.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 blocks with a career-high .650 true shooting mark this season.

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