It’s not the worst-case scenario, but the Philadelphia 76ers received confirmation today that Joel Embiid does, indeed, have a torn ligament in his injured right thumb.
Doc Rivers says Joel Embiid’s MRI confirmed the ligament tear in his right thumb but that nothing changes in terms of Embiid’s availability or treatment.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 24, 2022
Subsequent reports state that the thumb will require surgery in the offseason:
Joel Embiid will require surgery to address the ligament tear in his right thumb, but that procedure will wait until after the Sixers' season, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 24, 2022
The good news for the Sixers and their supporters is that the MVP finalist will continue to suit up as the team looks to close out the Toronto Raptors in Monday night’s Game 5 and advance through the Eastern Conference playoffs. However, Philadelphia will ultimately go as far as their superstar big man is able to take him, and he was visibly hampered at times in Saturday’s Game 4, in which he shot 7-of-16 from the field and committed five turnovers. Embiid has been adamant that he will not need to miss time due to the injury, and that it’s a matter of pain tolerance, but a version of Joel at 100 percent versus one at, say, 85 percent, could potentially mean the difference between winning and losing a series.
You have to feel for the big man, who made conditioning a priority coming into this season and played a career-high 68 games during the regular season, averaging a career-high 33.8 minutes per game. Embiid has been particularly snakebitten during postseason competition, having the orbital fracture in 2018, the upper respiratory infection, knee tendonitis, and gastroenteritis in 2019, and the torn meniscus in his right knee last year. Fans wanted to see what a relatively healthy Embiid could do in the postseason at the height of his powers, but now, this unfortunate setback has emerged.
Embiid will undoubtedly keep pressing on, but the Sixers finishing off this series tomorrow night becomes even more important to afford Joel additional rest and treatment in advance of a second-round series. We’ll continue to keep an eye on that thumb and provide updates as they become available.