Joel Embiid suffers a knee injury in the final minutes of the 76ers’ loss to the Warriors
NBA MVP Joel Embiid suffered a left knee injury in the final minutes of the Philadelphia 76ers’ loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night at Chase Center.
With just over four minutes to play, Embiid was stripped by Golden State’s Jonathan Kuminga while backing down Draymond Green. As Embiid headed toward the loose ball, Kuminga also dove and landed on Embiid’s left leg, just below the center’s knee.
Embiid immediately grabbed his knee in obvious pain before walking off the field under his own power. He did not enter the game again as Philadelphia lost 119-107. Embiid scored 14 points in 30 minutes before exiting.
“Obviously he went down, so they’re going to do an MRI tonight or tomorrow,” Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse said after the game. The nurse added that the injury was not related to what kept him away recently.
In the first half against Golden State, Embiid gingerly walked into the locker room with his knee draped after going 1-for-7 shooting in 10 minutes in the first quarter.
On Saturday, Embiid was a late scratch in the 76ers’ game against the Denver Nuggets. After going through the usual pregame warmups, Nurse said the team’s medical staff “didn’t like what they saw” and decided it was safe for Embiid to sit out the highly-anticipated matchup against Nikola Jokic.
Throughout that game, Embiid was seen wearing a large wrap around his left knee. Embiid also missed the 76ers’ next game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
After Tuesday night’s game, Nurse said the coaching staff felt comfortable letting Embiid play against the Warriors and that the quarterback felt good throughout the game.
Embiid has missed 12 total games this season, and is six absences away from becoming ineligible for postseason awards. The NBA instituted a new rule ahead of the 2023-24 season that stipulates that a player must participate in 65 games and log at least 20 minutes in those games to qualify for the Most Valuable Player Award and selection to all-NBA teams.
How bad could this get for Embiid and the Sixers?
As the nurse said afterward, the MRI will tell us everything. But in talking with players and coaches, there was a strong feeling that Embiid would need to miss at least some games as a result of the injury. However, there was no immediate concern that this was something much more serious. However, again, this part will not be clear until the MRI results are in.
The problem for the Sixers, of course, is that they have now lost four straight games and dropped to fifth in the East in the process. They were without their rising star, Tyrese Maxey, for three of those games with an ankle injury. Nurse said before the Warriors game that the 23-year-old will likely play Thursday at Utah. If Embiid is out for an extended period, all the positivity that came with their impressive start could quickly disappear.
As for Embiid, this injury could eliminate him from the MVP conversation before we even get to the All-Star break. As some of his teammates said afterward, that aspect of the situation was widely disapproved in Sixers circles. — Sam Amick, senior NBA writer
Was the 65-match rule wrong?
That sentiment seemed to be the consensus in the 76ers locker room after the game. As the Sixers’ Paul Reed and Kelly Oubre discussed, the pressure that came with the league’s new rule could force NBA stars to play when they shouldn’t.
Only Embiid can speak to whether that’s the case here, but the 29-year-old has been vocal about his desire to be an MVP in years past and it’s safe to assume his desire to defend the Michael Jordan Trophy is strong this time around.
“I didn’t sign up for that (65-game rule),” Reed said. “I don’t remember not signing any papers, do you feel me? I think the union agreed to that. They probably didn’t have a choice though, to be honest. Yes, it’s tough. It adds a lot of pressure on the players. We were just talking about That. There’s a lot of pressure, especially guys like (Embiid who) is trying to get an MVP award again.
Add to that the fact that Embiid was subjected to heavy ridicule following his recent absence in Denver, and there is a level of scrutiny that has his teammates concerned.
“(You have people) putting pressure on him to force him to be great when he’s 300 pounds, 7-foot-5?” “Like, come on, bro,” said Oubre, who exaggerated Embiid’s stated size of 7-foot-2 and 280. Yeah he’s got to do what he’s got to do I think this year people will really understand that his whole career he’s had to make sure his body is healthy. This is like Nascar, right? If their cars aren’t running, and the mechanics can’t really get the job done before the race, what can they do? They can’t race.
“This is our body. Our body is our car and we have to treat it with respect. It costs 350 pounds, brother. You know, I’m praying for him to get well soon, so he can come and give himself the best chance. But at the end of the day, that’s not important. His body His career is the most important.” — AMIC
(Photo: Neville E. Gard/USA Today)
(tags for translation) Philadelphia 76ers