Joel Embiid to miss Game 1 of Eastern Conference Semifinals

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid reacts after being hurt during the second half against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, April 20, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

As the Philadelphia 76ers prepared for their second-round matchup against the Boston Celtics, they did so preparing for the possibility that they would be without their superstar, Joel Embiid. Now, roughly two hours before tipoff, official word has come down that the Sixers will face their hated rival without the help of the likely MVP.

This announcement comes after over a week of speculation about the severity of the injury. Officially considered a Grade 1 sprain, some have suggested that it could be more serious than the Sixers initially believed.

What could Embiid’s timeline be?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 21: Philadelphia Sixers center Joel Embiid (21) and Kansas Alum looks on during the game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Villanova Wildcats on December 21, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

A grade 1 sprain means that the person afflicted has slightly stretched or possibly even developed a small tear. In this case, the injury takes place in Joel Embiid’s right knee. The expected recovery time for this injury is typically considered between one to two weeks.

If the injury were to be more severe, the next level is the logically named grade 2 sprain, which is a more severe tear of the ligament. With this level of sprain, the expected recovery time is two-four weeks. While there is a grade 3 sprain, it is otherwise known as a complete tear. If that were to be the case, Embiid’s entire season would likely be over. Thankfully, this appears to be a grade 1 injury or barely grade 2 at its worst, though without viewing the MRI, that is speculation.

One more matter to note, Embiid did receive an injection, known as platelet-rich plasma treatment, which will hopefully speed up his recovery. Essentially, the procedure consists of treating a patient with their own blood cells. You can read in-depth about this procedure here.

With all that in mind, Game 2 could potentially serve as Embiid’s series debut, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested. If not, It’s likely Game 3 or bust for both Embiid and the Sixers’ chances at the NBA Finals.

While Embiid will miss the first game of the series, there is hope that he will be available in Game 2. In his absence, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey will carry the load, while Tobias Harris will look to continue his quality start to the 2023 playoffs.