Fitness of Joel Embiid Will Decide 76ers-Hawks Series


The Philadelphia 76ers are poised to do things that they haven’t done in two decades, but they won’t realize their full potential unless Joel Embiid is 100% fit. Playing through a minor meniscus problem in his knee, Embiid averaged 35.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in the first three games of the series.

But last night, in which the adverse effects of his knee injury were quite apparent, Embiid suffered through an 0-for-12 from the field performance in the second half, which was punctuated by his missing an easy bunny that would have put the Sixers ahead in the final seconds.


Now the series is 2-2 and anybody’s ballgame. If you’re looking for NBA odds for today or tomorrow, you’ll find a complete list of games and betting lines listed by Philly was expected to be a leading contender to win the Eastern Conference this postseason, or reach the ECF at the very least, but it all hinges on the health and fitness of their stellar big man. As he goes, so will the Sixers’ odds.

The runner-up in NBA MVP voting admitted what was wrong on his critical miss that could have sealed a W.

“Great look. Great look. I just didn’t have the lift,” said Embiid, who has only missed one game of the postseason since suffering a partially torn meniscus in his right knee during the first round series victory over the Washington Wizards.

“Thought I got fouled too. But usually, I would go up, especially for a bucket like that, try to dunk it. Try to get fouled and get an and-1. But … not being able to jump for obvious reasons. … It’s tough.”


In terms of those obvious reasons, well, we just need to trust to process here. The former Kansas Jayhawk one-and-done had to back to the locker room for treatment in the first half, and it’s not secret what was going on. No matter what side you’re on in this series, or if you’re neutral, you know what’s really going on.

“I guess it’s already known,” Embiid told the media, verifying how his knee injury was bothering him.

“Don’t need to explain … I’m just trying to do the best I can.”


So it just remains to be seen, can a significantly less than 100% Joel Embiid be enough to carry the Sixers to the conference finals? Is an 80% or 70% Embiid that much better than the other options?

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the  Chicago Tribune.

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