In a playoffs where six All-Stars already missed time in the first round changing series, Philadelphia has suffered the biggest game-changer of them all: 76ers MVP-finalist Joel Embiid is out indefinitely with an orbital bone fracture and concussion.
He is listed as out heading into Game 1 against the Miami Heat on Monday, but there is hope Embiid could return later in the series, according to multiple reports. Philadelphia just doesn’t know yet. However, there is reason to hope this will not require surgery, which would have him out for weeks. From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
Embiid will be evaluated again next week, but at a minimum he must be out 5 days with the concussion, sources said.
There is no timetable for this injury yet but sources said “the door isn’t closed.”
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 30, 2022
Longtime Sixers reporter Derek Bodner wrote this in his Daily Six newsletter:
At this point the belief is that Embiid’s current fracture won’t require surgery, which means a potential return at some point during the series against the Heat has not been ruled out, according to sources. Currently, Embiid is listed as out, and the team says they will provide further updates as appropriate.
All of this echoes what Jeff Stotts at In Street Clothes said after the injury was announced Friday night — it’s hard to predict how long someone is out with an orbital bone fracture, but the average time is about 10 games. Some players return wearing a mask after just missing a couple of games. It depends on the injury.
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
Shelburne noted that the concussion will likely have Embiid out for the first couple of games of the series.
Still, the news of a possible Embiid return is a beacon of hope for a 76ers team that needs him if it’s going to knock off the top-seed Heat. Embiid averaged 26.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game against a Raptors team that was undersized but loaded up on him in the first round. That follows a regular season where he led the league in scoring at 30.6 points per game. And that’s not even getting into his elite rim-protecting defense.
Embiid was already playing through a torn thumb ligament in his right hand that will require offseason surgery, but he was able to dominate against the Raptors despite that.
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