Joel Embiid leaves game 4 early
The season could not have gone any better for the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans after finishing atop the competitive Eastern Conference. They hired Doc Rivers during the offseason to try and help the team reach the next level and the move seems to have worked miracles thus far.
However, the biggest question surrounding the 76ers was never whether they would be able to perform during the regular season. Fans and media alike wanted to know whether the team could get the job done when the games really mattered – in the playoffs.
They had been eliminated by the eventual NBA Champions Toronto Raptors in the second round of the playoffs in 2019, but took a massive step backwards last season when they were knocked out of the postseason in four straight games by the Boston Celtics. Last year’s playoffs were held inside the NBA bubble in Florida though and some players had a lot of trouble adjusting to life without loved ones.
This year, there are no excuses though for a Philadelphia team that had underperformed for years. They proved how committed they are to winning by dominating their first-round opponents the Washington Wizards in the opening three games of the best-of-seven series. Unfortunately, for their supporters though they were unable to complete the sweep on Monday evening in Washington.
The Wizards managed to escape with a crucial 122-114 victory over the 76ers, but Philadelphia may have lost something far more important than the game. Superstar Joel Embiid was forced to leave the game at Capital One Arena after just the first quarter as he looked to be in obvious discomfort.
Embiid fell hard to the floor just seven minutes into the contest when Wizards’ center Robin Lopez went up for the blocked shot. Lopez cleanly blocked the shot, but Embiid couldn’t keep his balance and fell hard on his backside. He did his best to stay in the game and played out the remainder of the first quarter, before eventually exiting the game altogether.
The 76ers had a small lead prior to Embiid’s exit from the game, but Philadelphia was outscored by 15 points in the second and third quarter.
“Once Jo came out, we weren’t moving the ball as well,” said 76ers guard Ben Simmons, via ESPN. “We didn’t get enough easy looks.”
Simmons was far from his best on Monday, providing just three assists on the night. The 76ers were dominated inside the paint with Embiid out of action. The Wizards made sure to make the most of the opportunity by providing plenty of looks to centers Daniel Gafford and the aforementioned Lopez. The two combined for a total of 28 points – the most they’ve had since the opening game of the series.
“We’re going to need him to be the last team standing, to win,” 76ers guard Danny Green said following his team’s loss, via ESPN. “It doesn’t mean we can’t win the next game without him.”
It remains to be seen if and when Embiid will be able to return to action.