Monday night, the Sixers will look to close out the visiting Toronto Raptors as the first round series heads back to Philadelphia for Game 5 after the Raps won Game 4 to stave off the sweep, 110-102.
The big news, of course, is Joel Embiid’s right thumb. The superstar big man underwent an MRI on Sunday in Philadelphia which confirmed that he does indeed have a torn ligament.
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
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
Embiid’s thumb clearly hampered his ability to impact the game in the Saturday matinee against Toronto. While the thumb’s compromised state predictably took a toll on Embiid’s efficiency from the field, the surprise to many was the toll it took on his overall demeanor on the court. He was simply far less involved in the game and effortful on both ends of the court, one would think for fear of further injuring the thumb and putting it in harm’s way. But Embiid is the team’s leader in every possible way — statistically, defensively, yes — but also emotionally. In order for the Sixers to make a true run of this thing, they need Embiid invested on the court in every possible way. Only time will tell whether or not this injury will allow him to be the Joel Embiid they need him to be.
For Monday’s game, however, it’s win and advance. Scrape by however you must, Sixers.
If Joel is still learning how to play with his banged up digit, the team will need improved performances from co-stars James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, who both were simply not good enough on Saturday. A teensy bit more from them, plus Danny Green remembering how to shoot, and Matisse Thybulle being legally allowed to play basketball again should be just enough to squeak by a Toronto squad with banged up key players like Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes.
Something else to watch: will the chippyness carry over? Joel got into a few shoving matches toward the end of Game 4 with OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, and with a juiced-up Philadelphia crowd frothing at the mouth and elimination on the line, things could get pretty intense. I’m betting on a Tyrese Maxey/Khem Birch brawl by halftime.
Our friends at DraftKings, for what it’s worth, like the Sixers’ odds to close this puppy out in Game 5. They have the Sixers pegged as seven-point favorites in the game.
Hobbled Embiid or not, the Sixers really ought to close this out Monday. Get the big man some rest and get ready for the second round right away, and let’s hope Miami and Atlanta beat up on each other a while longer while the Sixers grab some R&R.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors
When: 8:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBATV
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
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