The Philadelphia 76ers’ hopes of making a deep run in the 2019 NBA playoffs might rest on the health of Joel Embiid’s knee. The center is dealing with an injury at the start of the postseason that might not get much better anytime soon.
Embiid was listed as doubtful for game 1 between the 76ers and Brooklyn Nets in their first-round playoff series. The All-Star ended up playing, but he was not himself with 10 misses on 15 field goal attempts. Philadelphia was upset at home 111-102, and the favorites might be in trouble for the rest of a series that they are supposed to win.
The 76ers have not given a ton of information regarding Embiid’s injury, and he is listed as questionable for Game 2. Dr. David J Chao, who has gained notoriety for diagnosing NFL injuries in real time on his Twitter account, believes that Embiid’s injury is a long-term issue.
In an article for The San Diego Tribune, Chao noted that the brace Embiid was seen wearing on his knee is used for arthritis, for which there is no cure. That means Embiid could be forced to deal with this knee issue for the rest of his career.
“The brace shown is used for unicompartmental arthritis,” Chao wrote. “It could be used for a bone bruise, but absent an acute injury that is unlikely. And given Embiid’s long-term value, I doubt the Sixers medical staff would allow him to play through a bone bruise to risk further damage.”
If Chao is correct, Philadelphia has more to worry about with Embiid than just this postseason. The 25-year-old is in the first year of a $148 million contract, and the 76ers have been hoping he will be among the NBA’s top stars for years to come.
Embiid has a chance to finish in the top five in the 2019 MVP race after averaging 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. His 64 games played marked a personal high in a young career that’s been marred by injuries.
For now, Philadelphia has to worry about Brooklyn. The Nets had no trouble defeating the 76ers on their home floor in the series opener, and Game 2 Monday could be another tough task for Philadelphia.
Players like Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris must step up if Embiid is going to be hampered. Simmons’ playoff woes from last year continued in Game 1 as he only scored nine points on nine shots. Harris was even worse with four points on seven attempts.
Jimmy Butler was Philadelphia’s best player in the opener. He led the 76ers with 36 points on 22 shots.