With the NBA Playoffs starting in one day, two key players on Eastern Conference powerhouses are hurting. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid - an All-Star starter and fringe MVP candidate - has been dealing with a knee injury and has admitted that he may not be ready for Saturday’s opener against the Brooklyn Nets.
Joel Embiid still does not know if he’ll play Game 1 versus the Nets tomorrow. He says it depends on the pain in his knee. When asked how the pain felt today he said “I don’t know.” He will participate partially in practice today.— Cassidy Hubbarth (@CassidyHubbarth) April 12, 2019
That is very rough news, especially given Embiid’s history with lower body injuries, and the Sixers’ extreme lack of depth.
Embiid has played in only two of the Sixers’ last seven games, and the team has gone 2-3 in those absences.
Philly will still be favored over Brooklyn even if they’re without Embiid, but it’s hard to imagine them making much noise in the second round if their best player is out, or even compromised.
In that second round the Sixers would be matched up with the Toronto Raptors, which brings us to OG Anunoby. The Raptors second-year wing had an emergency appendectomy on Friday, and will likely miss a few weeks.
The Raptors can sleepwalk past the Orlando Magic in the first round, so no worries there. Hopefully he’ll be back at some point in round two, as his defense and versatility is huge against a Philly team featuring Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Jimmy Butler.