76ers' Joel Embiid reportedly returning from knee injury, could play Tuesday vs. OKC

The Philadelphia 76ers have been without their star Joel Embiid for two months, but their long, Embiid-less nightmare is about to be over.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that Embiid is expected to return from a left knee injury this week, possibly as soon as Tuesday's scheduled game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Embiid injured his left meniscus on Jan. 30 during a 119-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Fans were immediately concerned due to Embiid's history of knee injuries, and they were right to be. He underwent a procedure on his knee on Feb. 6 and was expected to miss six to eight weeks.

When Embiid went down, the Sixers had a 29-17 record and were fifth place in the East, behind the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Two months and 29 games later, the Sixers are 40-35 and have fallen three spots to eighth, firmly in Play-In territory. They went 11-18 without Embiid.

The Sixers didn't flail without Embiid, but they are a much, much better team with him than without him. Before his injury, Embiid was in line for his second straight MVP season, averaging 35.5 points per game with 11.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists. Even though he's returning with two weeks left in the season, he's missed too many games to qualify for the MVP this year.

Unless the Sixers spend the next two weeks playing out of their mind or losing every single game, they're about to do something they've never done before: compete in the NBA Play-In Tournament. Their recent history of stumbling in the early rounds of the playoffs is concerning, but with Embiid rested after two months off, it's possible they could avoid that fate this year.