Sixers center Joel Embiid has a small meniscus tear in his right knee and will be day-to-day, team says. He's out for Game 5 tonight.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 2, 2021
The Sixers locked up the one seed, they drew the team with the worst record in the entire playoffs in the Washington Wizards, they raced out to a three games to zero lead, and then the vibes came crashing down in one fell swoop. Joel Embiid attacked the rim against Robin Lopez, took some contact, and fell down hard with most of his weight landing on his right leg and rear. He would play another four minutes and leave us all feeling fine. But then he limped off to the lockerroom. The broadcast’s Kevin Harlan speculated he may have been going to the bike to stay warm. But then he missed his normal “check back in” mark. Then an entire anxiety-ridden quarter would go by before we learned he was out for the game with “right knee soreness.” But even then it felt sort of... precautionary. Why risk him coming back when the team might well win anyway holding a 3-0 series lead? We were nervous but not yet panicked.
But now it’s fair to commence panicking.
Sixers announced that Joel Embiid has a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee and is out for tonight's Game 5 against Washington.— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) June 2, 2021
They will go the non-surgical route to treat the injury and say that he is considered day-to-day.
By 1:30 am, Team President of Basketball Operations, Daryl Morey sent out a tweet that allowed tea-leaf readers the sweet shot of relief they so desperately craved. A clip from Disney’s “Robin Hood” that “One of clock and all is well:”
Now all we needed was a #ThrusttheProcess from Embiid’s Twitter.
What the heck is this? Is this recent? Is this a hospital? Is this a dentist? How do we find Finessa!
What we didn’t know at the time was that the team’s plane had broken down, as reported by Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and that the team didn’t return to Philly until 6:00 AM! So there couldn’t have been any rock-solid MRI results by 1:30 AM informing that animated vigilante fox hero clip, Morey sent.
These dudes were banged up and played a hard-fought game, they needed their sleep. We couldn’t get any answers for hours yesterday because there probably weren’t any at the time.
So it felt like just steely silence from the team. And as every hour, nay, every minute passed, the anxiety we felt started to feel more justified.
Given the timeline we’d learn later, it makes more sense that the team perhaps did not receive results of an MRI until late afternoon. And it’s plausible that they would not have a diagnosis in time for the 5 PM injury report deadline; hence the vague one we’d get from Adrian Wojnarowski.
Joel Embiid will be doubful for Game 5, sources tell ESPN. He had an MRI on his right knee today, and is expected to be evaluated further in next day.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 1, 2021
And as some folks noted, that vague post became a Rorschach test for fans to read whatever they wanted or didn’t want.
This clip provided a little room for optimism yesterday:
As did Kyle Neubeck’s update:
You wait twenty years or more for a team this good, and it can all be taken away from you in a fluke play. Sports are not for the faint of heart. I suppose the plan is for Joel to try to play through this injury. I’m not sure what the long-term implications are for that. With his future, with how sensational he is when healthy in mind, I can’t say I’d be excited for him to limp around with a tear in his knee for these playoffs. But at least based on what we learned yesterday (assuming they knew this then) they maybe think they can manage this?
So we turn towards tonight’s game. Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Danny Green and co. might be able to put away the Wizards. But all our minds and hearts will be on The Process. What a ridiculously great player, and what a disappointing situation this is now for him and the fans.