If the 76ers are going to knock off the top-seeded Heat in what shapes up to be an intense second-round matchup, Joel Embiid is going to have to have a monster series despite a torn right thumb ligament. Philly needs him to outplay Bam Adebayo.
Which will be hard to do with him not on the court.
Friday night came word Embiid has an orbital bone fracture — around the eye socket — and concussion, and he is currently listed as out heading into Game 1, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic and confirmed by the 76ers (via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia).
Per the Sixers: Joel Embiid suffered a right orbital fracture and mild concussion in last night’s game. He’s out and “further updates will be provided as appropriate.”
— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) April 30, 2022
The injury occurred Thursday with four minutes left in a game where the 76ers were ahead by 29, when Pascal Siakam drove the lane and inadvertently elbowed Embiid in the face.
The play where Joel Embiid got injured pic.twitter.com/GYWDUxupoU
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) April 30, 2022
This is potentially devastating news for the 76ers. Embiid is the heart of the 76ers offense — he averaged 26.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game in the first round (also, he led the league in scoring at 30.6 points per game in the regular season). Embiid also is critical as a rim-protecting defender for the Sixers.
This puts more scoring pressure on James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, going against an elite Heat defense that was fourth-best in the league in the regular season, then shut down Trae Young and the Hawks in the first round.
Embiid suffered two injuries. The orbital bone fracture could mean he is out days — returning with a mask to protect the fracture — or weeks, depending on the details of the injury and if surgery is needed, according to Jeff Stotts at In Street Clothes.
Re: Joel Embiid: Orbital fractures have a decent amount of variability due to multiple factors including the bones involved, possible displacement, size of the actual fx, & any soft tissue or eye damage. Surgery may be warranted if the damage is severe & a bone has displaced. 1/3
— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) April 30, 2022
Stotts says the average time lost to the injury is 10 games in the regular season, but again the time frame varies widely depending on the details of the injury, which are currently unkown.
The concussion is a little more straightforward but also highly variable, however he will be out a minimum of five days because of it. Embiid will have to pass a series of cognitive and physical tests without symptoms before returning, and the timeline for that can vary.
Game 1 between the Sixers and Heat is set for Monday night in Miami. Embiid will miss that game.
The Heat are battling injuries of their own, with Jimmy Butler missing the closeout game against the Hawks due to knee soreness and Kyle Lowry was out the final two games of that series with a hamstring injury. The status for both of them for Game 1 is unknown, but coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday he liked the progress both were making.
Embiid has a history of playoff injuries, last season he played through a meniscus tear in the postseason, but it limited him.