76ers’ Joel Embiid Limps off vs. Wizards After Suffering Knee Injury on Dunk

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid plays during an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid will undergo an MRI on his left knee after exiting Friday night’s game against the Washington Wizards following an awkward fall, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski

Embiid hyperextended his left knee when he landed after a dunk in the third quarter. 

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Joel Embiid heads to the locker room after landing awkwardly on his knee

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“Tomorrow we’ll have all the information for you,” head coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the Sixers’ win. “I did talk to him in the locker room. He’s in pretty good spirits, so let’s just hope for the best.”

Embiid, 26, is having an MVP-level season for the Sixers in 2020-21, averaging 30.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from three. 

He’s the team’s focal point on the offensive end and anchors its defense as one of the league’s best rim-protectors. 

But the Sixers have remained cautious with Embiid’s playing time as he’s battled lower back stiffness throughout the season, missing seven games already. The Sixers are 2-5 in those contests. 

Put simply, the Sixers are a far inferior team without Embiid on both ends of the court. 

How they’ll handle this injury remains to be seen should Embiid miss time. The Sixers have taken three main approaches in games he’s missed thus far:

  • Starting Dwight Howard at center.
  • Starting Tony Bradley at center and keeping Howard in his normal role coming off the bench with the second unit. 
  • Starting a small-ball lineup with Mike Scott entering the starting lineup, allowing the Sixers to play quickly on the break and surround Ben Simmons with four perimeter shooters. It’s been effective on offense but lacks any rim protection on defense, making the Sixers vulnerable in the paint. 

Whatever route they choose, expect the Sixers to struggle in the event Embiid can’t suit up. 

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