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Embiid did not practice Saturday, Rivers calls him ‘doubtful’ for Game 1

NBA writer Sam Amick talks with Michael Smith and Michael Holley about the Eastern Conference playoff picture and how the conference semifinal matchups are stacking up.

If Philadelphia is going to get past Boston in the second-round series where Game 1 tips off Monday, it will need MVP-level Joel Embiid.

Which is why it’s bad news that the sprained knee Embiid suffered in Game 3 against Brooklyn still has him sidelined. He did not practice on Saturday and Doc Rivers is not optimistic Embiid can play on Monday.

Embiid is the hub of the 76ers’ offense and led the league scoring 33 points a game this season. However, if he cannot play the bigger loss is on defense where Boston has places to attack — James Harden, Tyrese Maxey — and without Embiid as a rim-protecting backstop it could be rough for Philadephia until he returns. A lot falls on the shoulders of B-Ball Paul Reed until Embiid is back.

It is expected Embiid will play at some point in the Celtics’ series — a series that may be the defacto Eastern Conference Finals — but will the Sixers be in so deep a hole at that point he is too little, too late?