Joel Embiid was out for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, and his status for Game 2 is shaky.
“We’ll see moving forward,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said pregame. “I honestly don’t know. I hope, but I can’t even say.”
The soon-to-be MVP went down in Game 3 of the 76ers’ first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets. Soon after the round concluded, it was revealed that Embiid’s knee injury was worse than initially let on.
Reports indicate that Embiid is dealing with a sprained LCL. According to sports physical therapist and the founder of FLASH Momentum Ryan Bair who spoke to The Inquirer, a Grade 1 LCL sprain could take a few weeks to fully recover from. If the sprain enters the Grade 2 or 3 range, the recovery time jumps to 4-8 weeks.
Embiid’s availability for future games “hasn’t even been talked about,” per Rivers, and his mobility is still being greatly affected.
“He shot today a little bit at the practice,” said Rivers. “That was his first real court time, but there was zero running.”
The big man was getting up some shots at TD Garden during the team’s shootaround, but his doubtful status persisted until roughly an hour and a half before tip-off when he was ruled out.
It marks another saga in a long stretch of bad luck for the Philly big man.
“Joel’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do since I’ve been here over the last three years, and yet, every year at this time, something happens, and all of them are freak accidents,” said Rivers. “There’s literally nothing you can do about it, especially with Jo. He plays in traffic a lot. He’s on the floor a lot. And teams are very physical with him. They have to be.”
That being said, Rivers is ready to let Embiid loose as soon as he gets the go-ahead. “If they tell me he can play, he’s playing,” said Rivers.
Until then, Boston will have to deal with a 76ers squad that plays faster, more spread out, and perhaps with a bit of an edge to them. That was on full display in Philly’s Game 1 shocking 119-115 win on Monday night.
“We open the floor up more. I think that’s clear,” said Rivers. “We try to get into the paint. We play more draw-and-kick. W go small at times with P.J. [Tucker] at the five. We play a lot of zone at times. It’s the kitchen sink mentality.”