PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There’s excitement mixed with a little concern for many less than 24 hours before the Sixers’ playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets begins Saturday. Joel Embiid’s injury status has been a mystery since February, and it’s not any clearer ahead of Game 1.
A few hours after Embiid said he’s not sure if he’ll play Saturday after Friday’s practice, the Sixers officially listed the All-Star center as doubtful for Game 1 against the Nets.
The Sixers’ championship hopes, though, very much depend on Embiid playing. It looks more likely as game time inches closer, the Sixers could start the postseason without Embiid.
On Friday, Embiid said he’ll decide if his balky left knee can sustain playoff basketball. Embiid said that the decision to play is ultimately his.
When asked specifically what hurts, he said running, jumping – basically playing basketball.
“They’re going to do whatever they can as far as getting me ready and healthy, but if my body doesn’t respond, there’s nothing you can do,” Embiid said.
Embiid’s been dealing with left knee soreness since the All-Star break and missed 14 of the Sixers’ final 24 regular-season games.
Ownership and front office have made it very clear that despite some of the roadblocks the team faces, this group of players must produce in the playoffs. The Sixers believe their time is now.
“All the guys come in, you can see on everyone – they’re excited to know we have a chance this year,” Embiid said. “We’re gonna go for it.”
Since acquiring Tobias Harris from the Clippers, the Sixers’ starting five have played just 10 games together. With that, Brett Brown is keeping his game plan as vanilla as possible.
“And so when you start thinking, ‘we have to make multiple adjustments,’ it means you’re chasing,” Brown said. “It means you’re chasing – and sometimes you have to.”
Brown admitted Friday that he is frustrated with Embiid’s unwavering health but appeared confident in the pulse of the Sixers – even with their star center’s status for Game 1 doubtful.
“I’m so numb in a good way, in an exciting, positive way to the many things that have come up over our days together,” Brown said. “What I do know, here we are, we’re about to enter the NBA playoffs, I have the best team I’ve ever coached. We’re excited to go play Brooklyn.”
Harris doesn’t know if the 10 games the starting five’s been together is enough.
“To be straight up with, it’s not that much time that we have had,” Harris said. “But we know at the end of the day, though, the personalities that we have, the team that we have and talent that we have, we should be able to outcompete our opponent.”
The Sixers will tip-off against the Nets in Game 1 on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.