It’s been a rough news cycle in the City of Brotherly Love after the Philadelphia 76ers announced big man Joel Embiid is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion and orbital fracture injury in the fourth quarter of the series-clinching victory against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday evening.
Orbital fractures are different from player-to-player depending on the severity. Embiid suffered a similar injury in 2018, but required surgery, and missed three weeks. In some instances, players return to action in less than a week but must play with a face mask.
At the same time, even if Embiid can play in a week or less with the orbital injury, he still has to clear concussion protocol.
The 76ers, with the #4 seed, are slated to meet the #1 Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals starting on Monday with Game 1. The series remains in Miami for Game 2 on Wednesday, before the series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Friday and Game 4 next Sunday.
According to DraftKings’ series markets, the 76ers are +300 odds to defeat the Heat and win the series. The Heat are the favorite at -390 odds to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The 76ers are the long shot on the board at +3000 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship. They’re also a long shot at +1100 odds to win the Eastern Conference.
Embiid: Unknown Timetable
Embiid played the last series with a lingering thumb injury, which he indicated he would get fixed with offseason thumb surgery. Although the injury was painful at time, it did not slow him down. He averaged 26.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in the first series against the Raptors. He shot 51.1% from the field and 83.7% from the free-throw line. It’s no surprise, but Embiid was utterly awful from 3-point range shooting a 14.6% clip. He shot blanks with an 0-for-7 clip over the last three games.
In Game 6, Embiid dumped in 33 points in 36 minutes and shot 12-for-18 from the floor in a 132-97 victory. Pascal Siakim caught Embiid with an elbow late in the fourth quarter. Head coach Doc Rivers is catching flack for leaving Embiid in the game during a 30-point blowout. The 76ers were up by 29 points when Embiid left the game with the injury.
Paul Reed, a second-year backup, played the rest of Game 6 when Embiid went down. Reed (3.1 points, 2.4 rebounds) has become a favorite of Rivers’ in recent months, so expect him to get a chunk of playing time with Embiid out with his injury.
In addition, James Harden likes running pick-and-rolls with Reed whenever Harden ran the offense with the second unit. If those two can continue their PNR-chemistry, it could cause problems for the Heat’s defense in the upcoming series.
Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.