As for Game 5 tomorrow…
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Joel Embiid will be doubful for Game 5, sources tell ESPN. He had an MRI on his right knee today, and is expected to be evaluated further in next day.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 1, 2021
Up 3-1 on Washington, the 76ers should still advance without Embiid. They could even be cautious with him the rest of this first-round series.
But Embiid – playing at an MVP level when healthy – is essential to Philadelphia’s championship hopes.
It’s unclear how long he’ll be sidelined. Dubbing him as doubtful rather than just out for tomorrow could be considered encouraging. However, the 76ers haven’t always been forthcoming with the severity of Embiid’s injuries. Short-term health classifications have lingered for a long time.
What is clear: Philadelphia isn’t the same team without its star center.
- With Embiid: 117.7/103.7/+14.0
- Without Embiid: 106.8/114.8/-8.0
The difference has been even more stark in the playoffs:
- With Embiid: 148.0/102.4/+45.6
- Without Embiid: 111.6/120.0/-8.4
Dwight Howard will almost certainly play more. Philadelphia prioritized backup center knowing Embiid’s injury risk. The 76ers will also play small lineups – mostly with stretch four Mike Scott as the nominal center, but sometimes with an even smaller frontcourt.
This injury leaves the window open a crack for the Wizards to make a historic comeback. Not only does it weaken Philadelphia overall, it makes it easier for Washington to play its most effective center – Daniel Gafford, who struggled with Embiid’s size.