Joel Embiid might not be fully healthy for the start of the playoffs when the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Brooklyn Nets.
The Philadelphia 76ers center is a legitimate superstar and will be the best player on the floor in the first round. Nonetheless, the All-Star is suffering from left knee soreness and his availability in Game 1 is unknown.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand was strangely cryptic about Embiid’s health.
“I’m optimistic (Joel) plays this weekend, but it’s a combination of how he feels. I think he’ll present well and he’ll be ready, but we don’t know.”#Sixers GM Elton Brand on the status of Joel Embiid for this weekend pic.twitter.com/DZ3qkmrpeX
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) April 11, 2019
Of course, this could be Brand running interference on the Nets. Floating the idea that Embiid might not play in Game 1 could be a smoke screen to throw off Brooklyn’s coaching staff.
On the other hand, Embiid’s health has always been a concern and head coach Brett Brown grew frustrated when asked about his big man’s status for the playoffs.
#Sixers had a million opportunities tonight to make people feel better about Embiid's playoff availability .
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) April 11, 2019
Clearly, there’s some concern in Philly. Of course, even if Embiid can’t go in Game 1, Brooklyn will face a tall task. Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris are three All-Star caliber players and JJ Redick is one of the best shooters in the NBA.
That being said, the Sixers are a much more vulnerable team without Embiid patrolling the paint on both ends of the floor. His ability to impose his will through sheer physicality could be Brooklyn’s kryptonite.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see what happens with Embiid’s knee. Brooklyn travels to Philadelphia for Game 1 on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET.