Sixers' Joel Embiid ruled out for Game 1 vs. Celtics due to knee injury
Joel Embiid to miss Celtics-Sixers Game 1; could he return in Game 2? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
BOSTON -- The Philadelphia 76ers haven't lost since April 6, but if they want to win their seventh game in a row, they'll need to do so without superstar big man Joel Embiid.
Embiid has been ruled out of Monday's Game 1 against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, head coach Doc Rivers announced. The NBA MVP candidate got shots up at Philly's shootaround Monday morning but still was viewed as "doubtful" to play in the opener of this second-round playoff matchup entering Monday.
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While ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported there's "optimism" that Embiid could return for Game 2, Rivers said the possibility of Embiid playing Wednesday "hasn't even been talked about yet."
"He shot today a little bit after practice," Rivers said Monday. "That was his first real court time. But there was zero running."
Embiid sprained the LCL in his right knee in Game 3 of the Sixers' first-round sweep of the Brooklyn Nets on April 20 and missed Game 4. Philly hoped that Boston's first-round series vs. the Atlanta Hawks extending to six games would buy Embiid more time to be ready for Game 1, but it sounds like his injury is more series than initially thought: He recently underwent "platelet-rich plasma treatment" on his knee, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Monday.
Boston can't overlook the Embiid-less Sixers, however. Head coach Joe Mazzulla and guard Malcolm Brogdon both pointed out that Philly is 12-5 without Embiid this season, with the trio of James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris leading a more up-tempo attack.
"They play a little bit faster," Mazzulla said Sunday. "Obviously, each guy is more aggressive. I think they’re more empowered whether it’s Harden, whether it’s Maxey, whether it’s Harris. They’re looking to affect the game in different ways, and they play a little bit of a different pace."
The Celtics will be heavy favorites against Philly in any game Embiid doesn't play -- but their loss to the Dejounte Murray-less Hawks in Game 5 of their first-round series is a good reminder of the perils of taking your opponent for granted.
Tip-off for Game 1 is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, with NBC Sports Boston's coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live.