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Sixers’ guard, 2017 first overall pick returns to lineup after missing 68 games with injury

PHILADELPHIA,PA - MARCH 26 : Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up prior to the game against the Denver Nuggets at Wells Fargo Center on March 26, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA– The Philadelphia 76ers received an unexpected boost to the lineup on Monday night.

2017 first overall pick G Markelle Fultz returned to the lineup Monday after missing 68 games with a shoulder issue and speculated anxiety issues.

Coach Brett Brown announced the move just two hours before the Sixers’ home game against the Denver Nuggets.

Fultz’s teammates were enthused about the move, with All-Star C Joel Embiid posting this tweet before tip off:

Fultz, 19, playing for the first time since October 23, 2017, scored 10 points and dished out 8 assists. He entered the game to a standing ovation with just under three minutes left in the first quarter:

Overall, Fultz played only 14 minutes as the backup to G/F Ben Simmons, but they were productive as he helped the team secure a 123-104 win, bringing the team’s winning streak to seven.

Fultz’s return brings an end to a strange saga, in which Fultz was ruled out with “scapular imbalance” in his shoulder, and speculation that attempting to change his shot form caused him injury.

Upon his return Monday, it was also speculated that Fultz was dealing with anxiety issues.

Fultz offered no response to two questions about his shoulder injury on Monday, simply staring at reporters and remaining silent:

It will be interesting to see how the Sixers integrate Fultz into their rotation, with only 9 games remaining in the regular season before the playoffs.

The team clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2012 on Sunday.