MVP candidate Joel Embiid is now ‘out indefinitely’ and there is no timetable for his return as the Philadelphia 76ers prepare to take on the Miami Heat in the second round.
Sources: 76ers All-NBA star Joel Embiid suffered a right orbital fracture and mild concussion in series-clinching Game 6 win last night in Toronto. He will be listed as out and there is no timetable for his return.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 30, 2022
The unfortunate part about this is that Embiid was injured while the Sixers were up by 29 points with just a few minutes left in Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors — there was really no need for him to be in there. And it was a vicious hit from Pascal Siakam. Here’s where it happened...
The play where Joel Embiid got injured pic.twitter.com/GYWDUxupoU— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) April 30, 2022
The injury is obviously a huge blow to the Sixers. Embiid is having an amazingly productive season leading the NBA in scoring. He’s been a dominant force and would have been the focus of Miami’s defense. Without him, all the attention turns to James Harden and Tyrese Maxey.
Without Embiid, the Sixers will turn to Paul Reed, DeAndre Jordan or maybe even Paul Millsap. Geroges Niang may see action at center as well. None of those players will draw attention from the post — Philly’s offense will not be focused on the perimeter action of James Harden.
So here’s the 3 things the Embiid injury means for this series as long as Embiid is out.
#1 — Miami will treat Maxey and Harden like they did Trae Young
There will be nothing easy, and the Heat will look to keep them out of the paint and not creating for others. Blitzes, traps, and even a heavy dose of switching from Miami’s superior defenders should be a great asset to the Heat’s defense.
Maxey and Harden are different players than Trae. Maxey has a resiliency to him that will keep the Heat from ever feeling comfortable with a lead or relaxed. And Harden has a step-back jumper that could win a Game 1 by itself if he gets going. But the odds will be with the Heat’s defense.
#2 — The Sixers have no interior presence on offense.
Everyone else on their roster will score in the paint when someone creates it for them. This allows Miami’s defense not to sink in and help on post play. They didn’t have to do that against Atlanta and you saw what they were capable of. Tobias Harris is the best option for post-play but that will only be dependent on who is matched up against him.
#3 — Miami will be able to have rim pressure
Embiid was also a great deterrent from players coming into the paint. Without him, the Heat should be able to attack as planned and hopefully have Bam Adebayo be even more aggressive.
Embiid could return at any time, but for now, it appears that he may be out some time. Embiid previously dealt with this issue a few years ago and missed 3 weeks. Once news dropped that Embiid was out, the betting game had to adjust.
The odds for Miami’s win in Game 1 have shifted as well as their series probability. The Heat are now a -8.5 on the spread for Game 1.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.