It wouldn’t be a Philadelphia 76ers playoff run without a major injury to Joel Embiid. If that sounds pessimistic, it’s not. It’s been the reality of the thing dating back to 2018 when he first donned the mask and turned into the Phantom of the Process.
Embiid has played through the pain of a broken face twice, so dealing with a sprained knee should be a walk in the park. The 7-footer sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, which carries a recovery timeline of at least a week with it. Embiid hasn’t been cleared for contact, although he was spotted working out in the weight room after Tuesday’s practice.
Head coach Doc Rivers had no update for reporters when asked about his superstar’s injured knee, saying only that he watched film and did nothing else.
“We won’t know anything for at least another couple of days probably before we can move forward,” Rivers said. “There really isn’t an update yet.”
The Sixers are hoping for the best as they wait to face the winner of the Hawks-Celtics series in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The start date for that second-round matchup remains TBD. With Boston failing to close out the series Tuesday night, the Sixers have once again been granted the gift of time.
Should the series end in Atlanta Thursday night, then Game 1 will be May 1st in Boston. If Atlanta can complete the 3-1 comeback and win just two more games, then it will still be on May 1st, but in Philadelphia.
Either way, Embiid isn’t likely to be at full health when the next round begins. Multiple reports indicate he’ll be forced to wear a protective brace on his right knee. The freak injury – occurring after Embiid accidentally tripped over Cam Johnson – shouldn’t shut him down for the postseason, although the Sixers aren’t ruling anything out. When asked if he was 100% confident that Embiid had avoided a season-ending injury, Rivers replied: “No … but, I don’t think it is.”
Frustrated? No Time to Feel Sorry for Anyone
The Sixers held a lengthy practice on Tuesday afternoon at their Camden facility, where the squeak of sneakers could be heard loudly from the media room. Backup big man Paul Reed was one of the last guys off the court, staying late to work on his perimeter shooting and post-up moves in case he’s needed for extra minutes with Embiid banged up. Montrezl Harrell also received some extended burn. The Sixers are exhausting all resources just as they have done throughout Rivers’ tenure. Nobody is frustrated. It’s become the norm.
“It’s not what you want, but I don’t know if frustrated is a word I would use. It’s just part of our journey and part of our story,” Rivers told reporters. “We go through stuff. Listen, it could be someone else, we don’t care. We want everyone to be healthy, right? It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. What are we going to do about it? And, so, we have to deal with everybody [being ready].”
Yeti Footage: Embiid Spotted Doing Resistance Training
Embiid didn’t participate in the scrimmage part of Tuesday’s practice, but the All-Star center was getting some light exercise in off to the side in the weight room. Cameras caught him, via mirrors in Yeti-style footage, using resistance workout bands in the back. No protective brace was visible on his right knee, although the expectation is he’ll be wearing one in games. Again, the Sixers are taking it one day at a time.
“You know you guys can ask this 20 different ways, and none of it’s going to change,” Rivers said. “It’s going to be the same answer. I just don’t know the answer. So, I’m not going to give an answer that I don’t know yet.”