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Report: Joel Embiid doubtful for 76ers-Wizards Game 5

Joel Embiid in 76ers-Wizards Game 4

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during Round 1, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 31, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Joel Embiid left the 76ers’ Game 4 loss to the Wizards with right knee soreness.

As for Game 5 tomorrow…

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

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.

The 76ers’ offensive/defensive/net rating with their other starters (Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green and Tobias Harris) on the floor in the regular season:

  • 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.