Sixers news: Joel Embiid avoids major knee injury

Joel Embiid | Sixers (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid | Sixers (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Joel Embiid hyperextended his knee in Friday night’s victory over Washington. Thankfully, it does not appear to be a major injury. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the Sixers’ All-Star has suffered no structural damage. The ACL and meniscus are “fine,” and he is expected to miss only 2-3 weeks with a bone bruise.

This is a massive relief for Sixer fans, who have rallied behind Joel Embiid’s MVP campaign this season. The 7-footer has led Philadelphia to first place in the Eastern Conference, and while a potential three-week absence is significant, the Sixers should have him back by the playoffs.

The Sixers and Joel Embiid avoided catastrophe. Now the team must survive without him for a brief period.

On the season, Joel Embiid is averaging 29.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.4 blocks in 32.6 minutes per game. He is the heart and soul of this team, not to mention its most important player by a country mile. Without him, the Sixers will require a significant recalibration. We can expect Tony Bradley to start in Embiid’s place.

Prior to the injury, Embiid was widely considered the frontrunner for MVP. Depending on the length of his absence, he may still compete for — and even win — the award. That said, Embiid was already missing enough games to cast doubt on his candidacy. Multiple weeks off could open the door for LeBron James or Nikola Jokic to step in and run away with the narrative.

The Sixers have traditionally struggled without Embiid. Aside from the magical 16-game win streak at the end of the 2017-18 season (the last eight games of which were won without Embiid), Philadelphia has been consistently incompetent whenever Embiid misses time. He’s too important to the offense and the defense to not expect a major downturn in team-wide production.

That said, this is a prime opportunity for Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris to assert their worth. Both will need to be aggressive offensively, while Simmons will need to carry an ever larger burden defensively. The 6-foot-10 point guard has been playing the best basketball of his career lately. Now it’s time to see whether that holds up when he’s option A.

Stay tuned for more updates on Embiid in the coming weeks.

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