After last night’s game, the Philadelphia 76ers told reporters that Joel Embiid did not show signs of a concussion after his head-to-head collision with Markelle Fultz, and that X-rays were negative for fractures. That news gave hope to Sixers fans that Embiid’s injury was not as severe as feared.
Neither of those things turned out to be true — Embiid is now out indefinitely as he needs surgery to repair his orbital bone (the eye socket) and he has a concussion.
This is a huge blow to a Sixers team where a day ago you could map out a path to them passing the Cavaliers to get the three seed, then riding that all the way to the Conference Finals. While the Sixers will make the postseason, everything else is up in the air.
The reason for the uncertainty is simple: Embiid is the core of everything Philly does.
When Embiid is out of the game the Sixers defense gets six points per 100 possessions worse, while on offense they get 9.6 per 100 worse. Or, look at it this way: when Embiid is on the court, the Sixers outscore opponents by 11.6 points per 100 possessions — which would be the best net rating in the NBA of any team, a 60+ win team — but when he sits the Sixers get outscored by 3.6 per 100, that would be 22nd in the NBA and about the pace of a low-30s win team, well out of the playoffs. He makes that big a difference.
The Sixers have a soft schedule the rest of the way and can maybe hold on to a decent seed, but without Embiid their stay in the postseason will be short.