The Process finally made way for the playoffs, and the 76ers were ready for prime time

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid’s teammates didn’t know what he had planned for the moment The Process finally made way for the playoffs. Since he’s been out for the past two weeks with that left orbital fracture, Embiid has petitioned different companies that make protective face masks with a special request: to give him a half-mask, covering the left side of his face, reminiscent of the one worn by the Phantom of the Opera.

“The Phantom of the Process” — as Embiid has dubbed himself with a new social-media hashtag — made his debut before the Philadelphia 76ers hosted Game 1 of their first-round series against the Miami Heat. Embiid, following through the team’s pregame bell-ringing tradition, emerged at center court, raised his arms to the roof and whirled around the hammer to put the sellout crowd into a tizzy. It was a bold move that could’ve been clowned for its sheer brashness — especially because Embiid remains sidelined. But it also is indicative of the cockiness, fearlessness and overall showmanship of a 76ers team that refuses to be confined by what should be expected of a team that, before this season, mastered in the opposite of winning.

“It was funny,” rookie

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