The Sixers officially punched their ticket to the second round with their Game six victory over the Toronto Raptors. It was a hard-fought series with a great amount of physicality. Things seemed to be smooth sailing with the second-round matchup with the Miami Heat scheduled on Monday. This was until a bomb was dropped by Shams Charania Friday night.
The play in question occurred late in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. The Raptors have had a tendency to fight back into games so the Sixers made a conscious effort to make sure this was not the case. With just four minutes left to play, Pascal Siakam hit Joel Embiid with an elbow when attacking the basket. For context, the play occurred shortly after Embiid did his airplane celebration and the play by Siakam was overruled to be called an offensive foul.
There are a lot of people at fault for this. For starters, Joel Embiid probably should not have been in the game at all at this point. He also has had an incredibly hostile relationship with the Raptors and their fans throughout the series and showboating while leading by such a major margin was probably not a wise choice.
This is not to excuse the play from Pascal Siakam. While the fellow Cameroonian apologized for the incident, he certainly swung the elbow with intent during the play. Siakam certainly had no intention to hurt Embiid during the play, but the action was far from a basketball move. These are the types of non-basketball plays that can result in serious injury and that is being proven here.
Sixers Deep Playoff Run Hopes Dwindle
For the Sixers, this is just about the worst-case scenario. It is too early to establish a timeline but Embiid is certain to miss multiple games if not the entire series. Joel Embiid is the most important Sixers player on both sides of the basketball and the team has greatly struggled without him. This is a brutal ending to a guy who has put together an MVP-caliber season with the 30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists he averaged this season.
You also have to really feel for Joel Embiid who leaves his heart on the floor in a way few other athletes are willing to. The superstar has proven to be a warrior and has already been playing through a torn ligament in his thumb and producing at a high level.
Embiid has been determined to will this Sixers team to a championship but it is seemingly not in the cards this year. More details on a timeline for his return are sure to come out soon, but it is tough to imagine the Sixers winning a series against this scrappy Heat team without Embiid being able to be on the court.
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP