When the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Boston Celtics Monday night to start their second-round playoff series, they’ll be doing so without big All-Star man Joel Embiid. Philadelphia’s franchise centerpiece was officially ruled out for Game 1, having previously been ruled doubtful on Saturday. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said he “hopes” Embiid will be back for Game 2but they haven’t talked about that yet.
Embiid sustained an LCL sprain in his right knee in Game 3 of Philadelphia’s Brooklyn Nets first-round sweep. However, the athlete‘s Shams Charania reports that Embiid’s injury is believed to be more serious Embiid has undergone injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP).. It’s unclear exactly how serious the injury is, but it’s obviously not good news if this situation is worse than initially reported.
Embiid was on the court at Monday morning’s shootaround in Boston, but Rivers said he didn’t run.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, post-season injuries to Embiid have become an issue in recent years. He battled a meniscus tear in 2021 that sidelined him for the team’s final game in the team’s first-round series against the Washington Wizards. As on Saturday, the Sixers were able to end the series against Washington without Embiid, who then played through the injury in the next round against Atlanta.
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Last season, Embiid suffered a concussion and a fractured orbital bone in the first round against Toronto, missing the first two games of the following series against Miami. Unsurprisingly, the Sixers dropped both games and lost the series 4-2. Had Embiid been available for those two games, the series might have ended differently.
As Rivers mentioned, there is hope that Embiid could play in Game 2. But missing a game or two could swing a whole streak, just like it did against the Heat last season. The Sixers have a deeper and more well-rounded team than they have in recent years, but they’re not made to withstand an extended absence from their franchise heart.
Even if Embiid is able to play eventually, it’s fair to ask how the injury will affect his performance. When he’s at his best, he’s arguably the most dominant player in the NBA. This is the guy the Sixers will need to make the conference finals for the first time since 2001.