Sixers center Joel Embiid underwent an MRI on Friday that revealed a right knee sprain, and he will be sidelined for Saturday’s Game 4 in Brooklyn, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
While it’s obviously unfortunate news that Embiid was injured, it doesn’t sound like he will be sidelined for very long. According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, the team is optimistic that Embiid might be able to return early next week, though his status for a possible Game 5 on Monday is unclear.
Embiid suffered the injury while contesting a layup by Cameron Johnson in the third quarter of Game 3, which the Sixers wound up winning to hold a 3-0 lead in their first-round series with the Nets. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer provides a Twitter video link of the play in question.
Game 3 was controversial, as James Harden was ejected for the first time in his career following a flagrant foul 2 on what seemed like a fairly normal basketball play, while Embiid only received a flagrant 1 earlier in the game for intentionally kicking up at Nic Claxton‘s groin when Claxton tried to step over him following a dunk. Harden called his ejection “unacceptable.”
The fact that the Sixers are up 3-0 gives them breathing room for Embiid’s absence. If they’re able to complete the sweep on Saturday, the earliest they would have to play again would be either April 29 or 30, and that’s assuming their possible second-round series gets moved up — otherwise, they’d play again on either May 1 or 2, per NBA.com.
Embiid is considered the leading candidate for his first MVP award after finishing as the runner-up each of the past two seasons. He led the league in points per game for the second consecutive season, but the injury bug has bitten him once again in the postseason.