Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is not expected to play in Game 2 of his team’s second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics due to a knee sprain. Embiid did not play in the Sixers’ Game 1 win, and head coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday that he expects Embiid’s status to remain the same for Wednesday’s matchup.
Despite Embiid’s absence, the Sixers secured a stunning 119-115 victory on the road thanks to James Harden, who delivered one of the finest playoff performances of his career. Harden poured in 45 points and dished out six assists, and hit the biggest shot of the game: a go-ahead 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds to play.
The Sixers have now stolen homecourt advantage from a Celtics team that remains the favorite to win the title, and are three wins away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001. That is still a long way off, however, and they may ultimately need Embiid to get there. But when or if he’ll be able to play remains to be seen, and Rivers said the Sixers’ surprise Game 1 win won’t impact the big man’s timeline.
Embiid suffered the injury in Game 3 of the Sixers’ first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets. In the third quarter of that game, he went up to contest a shot by Cameron Johnson and landed in an awkward tangle of limbs alongside the Nets forward. Embiid got up slowly and was flexing his knee in the immediate aftermath, but played the remainder of the game. That was the last time we saw him on the floor.
After further examination, doctors determined that he suffered an LCL sprain in his right knee. It’s still unclear exactly how serious Embiid’s injury is, and when he may be back on the floor, even in a lessened state. He was out on the floor for shootaround the morning of Game 1 without a brace but was not moving well and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that he’s received platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections on his knee and has not done much running.
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We’ve seen Embiid play through serious injuries in the playoffs before, including a torn meniscus in 2021 and a broken orbital bone and torn ligament in his thumb in 2022. No two injuries are alike, though, and some are unsafe to play with even if you’re willing to deal with the pain.
For now, the Sixers will have to hope that Harden can continue playing like the old MVP version of himself.