Into the Void: Joel Embiid injury updates and where the 76ers currently stand ahead of Round 2
The Philadelphia 76ers playoff vibes came to a screeching halt last night after news broke that Joel Embiid suffered a right orbital fracture and a mild concussion at the end of the series-clinching Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors.
Here’s the play where Embiid’s injury occurred. Obviously, it doesn’t matter now, but Joel Embiid was initially called for the foul on Pascal Siakam, which was then overturned due to a Doc Rivers challenge.
Embiid was evaluated by team specialists last night to determine the severity of the right orbital fracture and according to Ramona Shelburne at ESPN, there has not been an indication that this injury will require surgery.
Still, with the NBA’s concussion protocols it looks like Embiid at minimum, will miss the next five days, effectively ruling him out for Game 1 against the Miami Heat set for Monday night in South Beach.
We don’t know much else besides the information above, but let’s try to make sense of what options are on the table. If Embiid needs surgery, it’s likely he would miss roughly three weeks of action. During the 2017-2018 season, Embiid fractured his left orbital bone and needed surgery. He missed 22 days, including eight regular season games and two playoff games, which were oddly enough, against the Miami Heat.
Again there is no indication that surgery is needed, and reports this morning are saying that the 76ers organization are still hopeful that Embiid will return for the Heat series, but no indication as to when.
What we do know, is Joel Embiid’s desire to play basketball. The 76ers organization might have to use force to keep him from playing if the option is on the table but damn, Embiid has already been battling through right knee soreness, a torn ligament in his thumb, and now a broken face?
How much more can he take while also remaining an impactful player on the basketball court?
Joel Embiid and the 76ers Need to Answer the Following:
- Does Embiid need surgery?
- If surgery is not needed, how impactful can Embiid be while playing with all of these injuries?
Orbital fractures and if they require surgery to fix have a decent amount of variability depending on the bones involved, possible bone displacement, the actual size of the fracture, and if it could have any impact on soft tissue or eye damage.
Shelburne did say that the door hasn’t been closed on Embiid returning to play next week and hopefully that is the case. Five days from the injury would leave the door open to Embiid playing on Wednesday in South Beach for Game 2, and likely wearing a mask like he did against the Heat in the playoffs back in 2018.
Even with that possibility, that means Embiid would have to get to Miami early next week and be ready to play by Wednesday. I doubt that would happen, and think that the earliest game Embiid would return would have to be Friday in South Philadelphia for Game 3.
As for the Philadelphia 76ers, they have plummeted to the worst odds to with the NBA Finals with Embiid’s health now in serious question. There’s really no denying that everything just got much easier for the Miami Heat, so do the Sixers really have a chance without their MVP candidate anchoring this offense?
It’s likely that Rivers will turn to a two-man rotation at center with DeAndre Jordan and Paul Reed. I know that everyone on social media is clamoring for Charles Bassey minutes but given the fact that he’s hasn’t even touched the floor, the idea of him actually playing seems unlikely unless the DJ and Reed duo are getting absolutely torched and the 76ers are in desperation mode.
Without Joel Embiid drawing double and triple teams down below, scoring opportunities for the rest of the Philadelphia 76ers will have to come from other key contributors in Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and yes, James Harden. Doc Rivers and the rest of the 76ers coaching staff will have to completely rethink the way the Sixers operate on offense and fast, with Game 1 just two days away on Monday night.
The 76ers split the regular season series with the Miami Heat 2-2, and most recently beat them on March 21st without James Harden and Joel Embiid playing. Tyrese Maxey put on a show that night, tallying a game-high 28 points (9-15 FG, 3-7 3PT, 7-7 FT) with five rebounds, four assists, and one blocked shot in 28 minutes of play.
Of course, the playoffs are a different animal.
We have now fully entered the void. There’s a ton of uncertainty about what the future holds for Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers and I’m sure we’ll get plenty more answers over the next 48 hours leading into Game 1 against the Heat.
One thing is for certain, a team with James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris should be able to remain competitive and win basketball games against the Miami Heat. If that’s who the Sixers have available to make it happen next week, then so be it.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY