Jahlil Okafor to Start Vs. Trail Blazers After Missing Sixers' Last 2 Games

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Jahlil Okafor will return to action on Thursday against the Trail Blazers after sitting out the last two games because of right knee soreness.

Brett Brown plans to start Okafor along with T.J. McConnell, Nik Stauskas, Robert Covington and Dario Saric.

"[I'm looking forward to] just playing with my teammates, going out there and competing," Okafor said after shootaround, also noting, "I feel fine."

Okafor has missed five games this season with right knee soreness. Last year he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a slight tear in his right meniscus. Okafor said he has not considered sitting out the remainder of this season to rest because of the soreness.

"No," he said. "We just rest and do treatment when we think it's necessary. We just go from there."

Okafor has been receiving treatment that includes icing, compression to prevent swelling and quad strengthening. 

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While the Sixers have not placed a minute restriction on Okafor, they will use their judgment in-game on how long he can stay on the court. Brown expects to play him in five-minute periods.

"I think we all should expect there will be a fatigue factor that creeps in quicker than most of our guys that will be starting," Brown said. "I have to be mindful of short, sharp durations as far as minute segments. I think five minutes is sort of the number that's most on my mind as far as when his effectiveness starts to go backwards."

Okafor's approach in his return is to get into a rhythm from his teammates and not force the game. 

"I think inevitably there's always a little bit of a feel and the pace of NBA athletes that catches people off guard at the start of the game," Brown said. "I think it'll come back to him quickly."

Brown opted to start Stauskas at shooting guard instead of Gerald Henderson to add a defensive presence to the second unit. Brown also wants to preserve Henderson's minutes for late-game situations.

Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless and Tiago Splitter (all inactive) traveled with the Sixers to Portland. The Sixers said on Wednesday that Joel Embiid is slated to join them in Los Angeles, where they play back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday against the Clippers and Lakers.

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