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Rivers: ‘Probably 50%, at best’ chance Embiid ready for start of next series

Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 27: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers talks with head coach Doc Rivers during the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on December 27, 2022 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. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

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The 76ers didn’t need Joel Embiid on the court to sweep the Brooklyn Nets out of the playoffs.

However, they will need regular season MVP-level Embiid in the next round against likely opponent the Boston Celtics. Which is why these comments from Doc Rivers after the 76ers’ win Saturday are concerning.

“I just don’t know... I would say, right now, it’s probably the same percentage I said before the game, probably 50%, at best.”

While Embiid was playing like an MVP in Game 3 against Brooklyn, he was rubbing his knee at points, which was clearly bothering him. Rivers said after that game Embiid complained about pain behind his knee — a concerning location — which led to an MRI and the determination of a knee sprain. That sidelined him for Game 4.

Game 1 of the next series will not start until next weekend at the earliest (and maybe later if the Hawks can extend a series where they trail 2-1 going into Sunday). The sweep of the Nets gives Embiid time to get closer to a return (it is also good news from James Harden, who has been banged up as well).

However, if the 76ers have to play even a couple of games without Embiid against an elite Celtics team, that may be too big a hole to dig out of.