Before Sixers fans could even breathe a sigh of relief at the possibility of going to a Game 7 despite a 3-0 lead, they gasp upon hearing the news that Joel Embiid is it with a right orbital fracture indefinitely and a mild concussion. The injury, which came from an elbow suffered by Pascal Siakam late in Philly’s series-winning win over Toronto on Thursday, could not have come at a worse time for the MVP nominee, who also suffers from a torn thumb ligament.
It’s now up to teammate James Harden to keep the 76ers afloat in the second round against No. 1 Miami until the big man can return. This isn’t Embiid’s first broken eye socket either. In the 2017/18 season he broke his left one and required surgery, forcing him to sit out three weeks. He missed the first two games of those playoffs, which were also against the Heat.
Embiid was wearing a mask back then, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to play through it if it was even remotely possible. The guy has already decided to postpone an operation, so putting on a mask and hoping it’s enough to keep his eye in his socket seems like a reasonable option. But again, that’s if it’s even an option.
The phrase “can’t take a break” springs to mind, but all Embiid seems to be doing is break in the playoffs. Last season, he played through a torn meniscus, and the year before, bubble season, he struggled with an ankle injury in a first-round exit to the Celtics. The only season he was healthy by his shaky standards in the playoffs was in 2019, when Kawhi Leonard hit the famous four-bounce buzzer-beater in Game 7 to send Philly home.
As someone who loves basketball and would have voted Embiid MVP had I gotten a ballot, it’s royal that this happened. He had an insane regular season and looked like Shaq with a stepback to start the playoffs. And anyway Starless NBA Postseason never stops being demoralizing. Who knows how healthy Devin Booker is, Khris Middleton is out for the Bucks Celtics series, apparently Jaylen Brown’s hamstring is nagging him and now this? Who has an orbital bone that Embiid can borrow for a few weeks?
Harden supporters, if there are any other than the Sixers fans and Daryl Morey, will now be able to watch as the Beard attempts to play one on five against a team that just headed the Trae Young-led Serpent with relative ease has decapitated . Like it or not, we’re about to get the James Harden Reality Tour.
He’s arguably the best player on the court now that Embiid is out, but we haven’t seen this version of Harden since he left Houston. Buckle up… or avert your eyes.
Yes Morant and Grizzlies advance, Tee Morant wins bragging rights over KAT Sr.
The final streak of the first round ended Friday night as Minnesota gambled away another late lead to be outplayed 40-22 in the final period. It was the third time in this series that Wolves went into the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead and lost.
Memphis now meets Golden State in a replay of a play-in game from last year that the Grizzlies won. The matchup is brimming with fun as both teams are healthy and the amount of depth, athleticism, skill, playmaking, shooting and stars is glorious. (Please, basketball gods, give us seven games.)
Last night’s actual winner was Tee Morant, who had an ongoing and good-natured feud with Karl Anthony Towns Sr. in the first round. After the game, Tee had KAT Sr. take his son’s jersey.
I love the energy, Tee, but there’s no way Ja’s jersey matches Big KAT.