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Joel Embiid has small meniscus tear, ruled out for Game 5 vs. Wizards [UPDATE]

Sixers big man is considered day-to-day with knee injury heading into Wednesday night.

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during Round 1, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 31, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.  Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Update, June 2nd — Embiid has been diagnosed with a small meniscus tear in his knee and has been ruled out for Game 5 vs. the Wizards on Wednesday night.

Embiid was injured in Game 4 vs. the Wizards on Monday and allowed Washington to extend the series at 3-1. Now, the Wizards will face a Sixers team missing an MVP candidate. The Sixers say Embiid’s injury will be managed by physical therapy and a treatment program. If this weren’t the playoffs, you’d think Embiid would be ruled out for an extended period of time, similar to what the Lakers are going through with Anthony Davis. Either way, the injury to Embiid doesn’t necessarily put the Sixers in danger of losing this series. It does make you question their ability to go deep into the postseason and compete for a title.

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Update, June 1st — Embiid is expected to be listed as doubtful to play in Game 5 vs. the Wizards, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Embiid underwent an MRI on Tuesday and will be further evaluated. This is not so great news for Philly. The Sixers entered Monday up 3-0 with a shot at the sweep. Now they face a potential Game 5 up 3-1 in the series without Embiid, who has been their anchor for much of this season.

If Embiid is out — which appears likely — the Sixers will likely start Dwight Howard in the front court with Tobias Harris. Mike Scott was the one who started the second half Monday night in Game 4. Scott played 17 minutes and Howard only saw 14 minutes in Game 4. The Sixers may opt to just go with smaller lineups filled with shooters surrounded by Ben Simmons. Philly has a versatile enough lineup where Simmons, Danny Green and Harris can all guard multiple positions. The Wizards also lack size outside of Alex Len at center. Rui Hachimura is more of a tweener SF/PF and Davis Bertans is out the rest of the series.

Does this impact how we approach betting Game 5 and even futures? I think so. Long-term, the Sixers can’t go deep into the playoffs without Embiid. We saw what happened last season in the playoffs when the Sixers were without Simmons against the Celtics. On DraftKings Sportsbook, the Sixers are 9/1 to win it all and +375 to come out of the East. Embiid’s injury could end up being serious enough that he won’t play again this postseason. If that is the case, the Nets, Bucks and even Hawks all have an easier path to the Finals.

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Philadelphia 76ers C Joel Embiid was forced to leave Game 4 vs. the Washington Wizards on Monday night due to knee soreness. The Sixers ruled Embiid out for the second half of the game with the score at halftime 61-60 Philly. With the Sixers up 3-0 in the first-round series of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the team isn’t taking any chances with the All-Star center. With Embiid sidelined the rest of Game 4, this gives the Wizards a chance to stay alive in the playoffs.

Embiid exited with 8 points, 6 boards and 2 assists in 11 minutes. The game is tight and luckily the Sixers have plenty of depth to withstand Embiid being out the rest of the game. The Sixers will just need Tobias Harris to step up on offense along with Ben Simmons and Seth Curry. Chances are we’ll see plenty of veteran Dwight Howard in the second half of Game 4, filling in for Embiid. The signing of Howard during the offseason was for instances like this, having a big body with plenty of playoff experience who can fill in at center when needed.

The Sixers entered Game 4 as 8.5 point favorites and this game will likely be close the rest of the way. Mike Scott is starting the second half in place of Embiid, so the Sixers are opting for a smaller lineup given the Wizards lack depth in the front court.