NEW YORK – Joel Embiid will be sidelined with an injury for the fifth time in his sixth playoff appearance.
The Sixers Friday night ruled Embiid with a sprained right knee for Game 4 of their first-round series against the Nets, which kicks off Saturday at 1 p.m. EST in Brooklyn.
Listed as Danuel House Jr. (non-COVID disease) was deemed questionable after sitting out the Sixers’ Game 3 victory Thursday night.
Embiid noticeably grabbed his right knee on two occasions and his mobility appeared to be hampered during the second half of game three. At the end of one timeout, he bent over the Nets logo before finally resuming action. In a high-drama, physical 38 minutes, Embiid eventually scored 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting, 10 rebounds and two blocks as the Sixers took a 3-0 lead.
“I’m fine,” Embiid said after the game. “He did a lot of jabs today, but I’m fine.”
As of Friday afternoon, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said he wasn’t sure about Embiid’s standing, though he recognized it had been a physically challenging night for his favorite big man.
“I don’t think it feels good,” Rivers said before a group film session. “He was as much on the ground as he was on the ground. Every time I looked, he would get up. But I don’t know how he feels yet. We’ll find out.”
Although Embiid never missed a long stretch in the playoffs due to injury, he unfortunately had many physical issues and often played through pain. For now, the 2020 postseason will be his only one without any injury absences. Last year Embiid suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb, fractured orbit and concussion in the qualifiers. He was out for Games 1 and 2 of the Sixers’ second-round championship series against the Heat and wore a protective mask upon return.
As they have been every season during Embiid’s career, the Sixers have been a significantly better team this year with the 29-year-old on the field than off the field. in cleaning glassEmbiid’s spotty net rating differential outside of garbage time was a plus of 10.9.
However, the team managed to win 11 of their 16 regular season games against Embiid and received strong contributions from players like DeAnthony Melton, Shaq Melton and Paul Reid in many of those wins.
Support for Red Embiid so far against Brooklyn. Veterans Dewayne Dedmon and Montrezl Harrell are two other Central Sixers roster options, and the team has been confident all season in PJ Tucker’s ability as a small-ball center.
After giving big man backup Day’Ron Sharpe 17 minutes in the series opener, Brooklyn leaned a lot more on smaller lineups in Games 2 and 3 and continued with aggressive, steady double teams on Embiid. There’s no doubt Rivers and Nets coach Jack Vaughn’s game plans will be radically different Saturday without the six-time All-Star center on the floor.
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