According to a report, the Philadelphia 76ers are likely to be without the services of center Joel Embiid for at least the first two games of the team’s playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
Source: Joel Embiid is experiencing a lot of pain in that right knee. His LCL sprain is typically a 4-6 week recovery. I’m told it would be a pleasant surprise if he were able to play in either of the first two games in Boston.
— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) April 29, 2023
Embiid suffered his LCL sprain during Game 3 of the 76ers’ first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on April 20. The injury came when he attempted to block a shot of the Nets’ Cam Johnson, with both players tumbling to the ground.
Even though Embiid was able to continue, there was swelling in his right knee. In addition, the veteran complained of pain in the back of the knee.
Embiid then sat out the Sixers’ victory in Game 4, a contest that gave the team a sweep and extended rest to await the winner of the Celtics’ first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. That Celtics-Hawks series went to six games before the Celtics advanced to face the 76ers.
By virtue of the extended rest, if Embiid were to play in Game 1 against the Celtics, he would have around 11 days under his belt between the time of his injury and the series opener against Boston. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to be enough for him.
There are also questions surrounding how effective Embiid can be, with regard to his mobility and his lack of conditioning because of the injury.
If Embiid plays anytime soon, his mobility could be affected by his possible need for a protective knee brace. Yet, even at less than 100 percent, Embiid has shown that he can be an incredibly potent weapon for the Sixers.
This isn’t the first time that Embiid has sustained an injury during the playoffs. Last postseason, for example, he dealt with thumb and head injuries.
During the 2022-23 regular season, Embiid again led the league lead in scoring average with 33.1 points per game. In addition, he averaged 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steal per game.
That performance came after a 2021-22 season in which he narrowly missed capturing the NBA’s MVP award, which he’s again in strong contention for.
Trying to replace numbers like Embiid’s will be extremely difficult against a Celtics team that’s trying to win the Eastern Conference for a second straight season. That’s why trying to get him back on the court is imperative to the Sixers’ hopes.