Through the first three games of the Sixers’ opening round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, Joel Embiid has been a game-time decision as he deals with flare ups of tendinitis in his right knee. With a cloud of pessimism hanging over the situation leading into Game 1, Jo ended up playing and the same goes for Game 2. However, in both games, Embiid was limited, falling short of 25 minutes played. Before Game 3, it was announced that Embiid will not play, and the Sixers defeated the Nets anyway.
Today when speaking to the media, Brett Brown stated that when preparing to be with or without Joel, he goes by gut feel. From James Herbert of CBS Sports:
The timing of yesterday, I always have sort of my gut feels of what’s going to happen and judgment of how I really feel he’s feeling and so on, and it’s borne out of talking with Jo, really. And you obviously listen to our medical staff. And so I wasn’t caught off-guard last night. And as it relates to tomorrow, I don’t know. And I really don’t have a gut feel. And so you’ll plan — to me, it’s always best to plan that you don’t have him and be really surprised and happy when you do. - Brett Brown
So a couple things from this quote:
- Joel Embiid is likely a game-time decision again for Game 4.
- It sounds like determining whether Jo is going to play is partly observing him in practice, partly having a discussion about how he’s feeling, partly deciphering what Jo says from what is the truth (this isn’t to say Jo openly lies, but I’m sure he wants to play and isn’t exactly excited to say when he’s not 100%), and partly taking the advice of the medical staff. Don’t think this formula surprises anyone, right?
- Brett Brown and the Sixers prepare to play as if they won’t have Embiid in an attempt to get of the mindset that having Jo is a bonus, not a necessity.
This all sounds as good as an approach as a coach can have in this sort of situation.
The case to sit Joel again for Game 4 is a solid one. It’s not a “must win”, as the Sixers hold the series lead and a loss would essentially create a mini best-of-three series between the Sixers and the Nets, with the Sixers hosting the first and final games at home. And Joel Embiid would end up getting eight consecutive days rest, as Game 5 isn’t until April 23rd and he hasn’t played since April 15th.
Conversely, it would also make sense to play Joel to increase the chance of victory in Game 4, and if the Sixers win, they would need just one more win over the three remaining games to take the series. In such a scenario, the Sixers could theoretically rest Jo Games 5 & 6, hope for victory, and only use him in an emergency Game 7.
Should the Sixers rest Joel Embiid in Game 4?
This poll is closed
Yes. The Sixers can win without him.
Yes. The Sixers will still have two home games in hand.
No. Get closer to putting the Nets out of their misery and focusing on Round 2.
No. The Nets could still take this series.