The Philadelphia 76ers were able to steal Game 1 on the road in the second round of the 2023 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics, taking homecourt advantage in the series. The 76ers were able to do this without the services of Joel Embiid, who was named league MVP ahead of Game 2. Here’s a look at the big man’s status for this contest.
Joel Embiid injury updates
Update — Embiid will return for Game 2 vs. the Celtics on Wednesday night. He sat out of the Game 1 upset win for the Sixers, who entered the series as underdogs. Having stolen homecourt advantage and now with the MVP back in the lineup, Philly is well positioned in this series. It’s unclear how much Embiid will play or if he’ll be on a minutes restriction at all. That could be the case depending on how the game goes. With it being the playoffs, you’d think Embiid will start and play a normal amount of minutes. The Sixers getting anything from Embiid is a plus at this point.
The Celtics are still favored by 7.5 points on the spread on DraftKings Sportsbook. It appears this line was baked in with the idea Embiid would be good to go. Philly at +7.5 isn’t a bad idea after Game 1. This also feels like a scenario in which the Sixers already did the job of stealing one of the first two games. A response from the Celtics should come, which could mean the Celtics build an early lead and the Sixers opt to rest Embiid. It may be best to monitor the line in-game to see what happens.
Update — It would appear that Embiid will in fact return for Game 2. He told the team “I’m back” after winning the MVP award and Shams Charania is reporting he is on track to play Wednesday night if he does not have any setbacks.
After winning MVP last night, during a quick 76ers celebration, Joel Embiid turned to the team and said: “I’m back.”— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 3, 2023
Embiid is indeed on track to return tonight in Game 2 vs. Celtics barring setbacks, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Embiid has once again been listed as doubtful with a knee sprain, and the 76ers are likely going to sit him again after winning Game 1. Game results typically shouldn’t dictate how teams deal with injuries, but being down 1-0 is much different than being up 1-0 on the road. The 76ers have got the split at worst, so Embiid can get some extra rest here.
With the big man set to be out, James Harden is once again going to lead this offense. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris will also be important players for Philadelphia when it comes to scoring. Paul Reed likely absorbs minutes on the interior as he’s become Philadelphia’s primary backup center.