UPDATE: Feb. 27, 9:20 p.m. — Embiid is expected to be re-evaluated in one week, the Sixers announced late Thursday night. The good thing is there’s no structural damage to the shoulder, so this may be a short absence. Philly is down both Ben Simmons and Embiid and will have to figure out a way to maintain its standing in the East without the two All-Stars.
Joel Embiid’s evaluation confirmed a left shoulder sprain. There’s no structural damage. He will be re-evaluated in 1 week. #Sixers— Ky Carlin (@Ky_Carlin) February 28, 2020
UPDATE: Feb. 27, 12:23 p.m. — Embiid has been ruled out for Thursday night’s game vs. the New York Knicks, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Embiid was injured last night against the Cavaliers and did not return. He’s going for further evaluation on his shoulder, per Woj. It’s unclear how serious the injury is, but the Sixers are now down Ben Simmons and Embiid, which isn’t good.
Joel Embiid is out tonight vs. Knicks. More evaluation on left shoulder sprain ongoing, per source.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 27, 2020
In terms of DFS options tonight, I like Shake Milton ($4,700) and Al Horford ($5,200) a lot as value plays on DraftKings. Both should be pretty chalky on the four-game slate, but so is Anthony Davis and a bunch of Lakers players with LeBron James out.
The line on Sixers-Knicks opened at over 8.0 points in favor of Philly. Now, the line is down to -6 on DraftKings Sportsbook and I’d imagine it will continue to drop with Embiid out. I’m not sold on the Knicks 100% being able to cover this spread on the road. The Sixers can’t afford another bad loss and they’re the best home team in the NBA at 27-2. I’d still lean New York at +6 but if it goes down more, I’d get on the Sixers.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid suffered a left shoulder injury after colliding with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Ante Zizic in the first quarter. He reported to the locker room to be evaluated after scoring three points in eight minutes. He returned to the floor briefly in the second quarter before retreating to the locker room a second time. Later, he was ruled out for the rest of the game.
If Embiid’s injury is severe, it could seriously impact a 76ers team that’s already reeling from a back injury that Ben Simmons suffered earlier this week. Simmons has had an MRI and is expected be out indefinitely. It will be hard for Philadelphia to climb from fifth in the Western Conference standings without its two All-Stars.
Update: The game is final and things look bleak in Philadelphia. There isn’t a definitive update on the status of Embiid, but they lost 14 points to Cleveland. This is a brutal blowout loss to the one of the worst teams in the NBA and there could be more of this to come of Biid is out for an extended period of time. Where his absence will hurt the Sixers most is on defense. Embiid is one of the best defensive players in the league and Philly allows 5.5 more points per 100 possessions when he’s off the court.
For fantasy purposes, Tobias Harris ($7,500) and Al Horford ($5,000) have seen the biggest increases in production when Simmons and Embiid are off the court this season. Per 36 minutes, Harris scores 42.77 DKFP per 36 minutes with the two All-Stars off the court, so he could be the top fantasy option for the Sixers going forward. Shake Milton ($4,500) is another player to keep an eye on. He scored 35 DKFP tonight and played a team-high 37 minutes.
Update: The 76ers trail the Cavaliers 55-44 at the break and have struggled on the offensive end. Furkan Korkmaz leads Philadelphia in points with 10 and Matthew Dellavedova matched that total at the midpoint to lead Cleveland.
Fantasy basketball analysis: Who should step up?
The 76ers need players to replace the scoring, defense, and playmaking Simmons and Embiid provided, and there are a few candidates who are obvious choices to do that. One option is Tobias Harris, whose 19 points per game are second to only Embiid. He’ll need to take more shots and score more consistently for Philadelphia to stay afloat, as Josh Richardson has been far from dependable shooting the basketball.
Al Horford will need to score more as well while remaining the versatile defender he has been in years past. He’ll definitely get more minutes in the 76ers’ frontcourt rotation without Embiid around and should expected to protect the rim.
Shake Milton is manning the point guard position, which has been weak behind Simmons all year. He and Alec Burks will be expected to run the offense and get other players involved moving forward.
Betting analysis: Odds to win the Atlantic Division
The 76ers have the third best odds (+1000) to win the Atlantic Division and trail the Toronto Raptors (-167) and Boston Celtics (+120). At this point, it seems unlikely that Philadelphia will come back from more than five games back and be a legitimate threat to top either team ahead of them. Its odds will likely slip as Embiid and Simmons continue to miss time.
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