Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid Doubtful for Game 1 of East Semis

The Philadelphia 76ers reported that center Joel Embiid could miss Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics due to a right knee injury.

Joel Embiid injury
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid reacts to a knee injury against the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. (Image: Getty)

The #3 76ers needed only four games to knock out the #6 Brooklyn Nets in the opening round. However, Embiid sustained a knee injury in Game 3. Without Embiid in Game 4, the 76ers defeated the Nets, 96-88, to complete a sweep.

The 76ers finally revealed that Embiid suffered a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain. However, Shams Charania from The Athletic reported that Embiid’s injury was more serious than a Grade 1 LCL sprain.

During the regular season, the 76ers went 11-5 without Embiid in the lineup. In this year’s postseason, the 76ers are 1-0 without Embiid.

The #2 Boston Celtics and 76ers meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Celtics host the first two games on their home court in the best-of-seven series. The Celtics needed six games to knock out the pesky #7 Atlanta Hawks in the opening round.

The #8 Miami Heat upset the #1 Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, and now the Celtics are the best-remaining seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Embiid “Probably Doubtful” to Start Series

The first game of the conference semifinal tips off on Monday night, or 11 days after Embiid’s last game. If he sits out Game 1 against the Celtics, he could have almost two weeks of rest before Game 2 on Wednesday.

Doctors looked at him, and he didn’t do anything today,” said head coach Doc River. “I’ll say this, if I was betting, I would probably say doubtful for at least Game 1, but we’ll see.”

“Embiid’s history of playing through injuries and pain shows it can be fluid depending on his progress,” reported Charania. “He has been able to do some individual spot-up shooting the past several days and will be evaluated daily.”

In four of the last five postseasons, Embiid had some injury. The 2020 playoffs were the only time Embiid was 100% healthy, but the 76ers were swept in the first round. The 76ers never made it past the conference semifinals in the other four instances. Embiid’s health contributed to all of their disappointing exits in 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022.

Embiid is the betting favorite to win his first MVP award after losing out to center Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets in the previous two seasons. Embiid led the NBA in scoring this season while averaging 331. points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

In three playoff games, Embiid averaged 20.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game.

Betting the 76ers/Celtics in Game 1

Oddsmakers opened Game 1 with the Celtics as a -6.5 favorite. The point spread moved to -9 after multiple outlets reported that Embiid could miss the series opener.

The 7ers are the best betting team in the NBA this season, including the playoffs, with a 50-34-2 record against the spread. During their sweep of the Nets, the 76ers went 3-1 ATS in the first round.

The Celtics are the fourth-best betting team, with a 50-38 ATS record. They went 4-2 ATS in the first round against the Hawks.

According to DraftKings, the Celtics are the favorite to win the series at -450 odds and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The 76ers are the underdog to win the series at +350 odds. FiveThirtyEight predicts that the Celtics have a 59% chance to win the second-round series, and the 76ers have a 41% chance to advance.

Forward Jayson Tatum leads the Celtics in scoring by averaging 27.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game in the postseason. Guard Jaylen Brown had a sensational opening round by averaging 26.7 points while shooting a phenomenal 51.5% from 3-point range.

Point guard Tyrese Maxey emerged as the leading scorer for the 76ers after he averaged 21.8 points per game in the first round while shooting an impressive 50% from 3-point range. Forward Tobias Harris averaged 20.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game against the Nets, but he shot a blistering 57.1% from beyond the 3-point arc.

Shooting guard James Harden had a quiet opening round, but the 76ers did not need him to provide an offensive punch because the other starters stepped up. Harden averages 17.3 points, 8.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He also knocked down 42.4% of his 3-pointers.

Futures Update: Celtics Outright Betting Favorite

The Celtics are the consensus favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +120 odds at DraftKings. When the regular season ended, the Celtics were +320 odds to win the title and second on the NBA futures board behind the Bucks.

FiveThiryEight predicts that the Celtics have a 47% chance to make the NBA Finals with a 32% chance to win the championship.

The 76ers are currently +950 odds to win the championship, which is a downtick from +75 0odds last week after they swept the Nets in the first round.

FiveThirtyEight gives the 76ers a 31% chance to reach the NBA Finals, with only a 20% chance to win the title.

With only four teams remaining in the east, the Celtics are the favorite to win the Eastern Conference crown back-to-back postseasons at -225 odds. The 76ers are the second team on the conference futures board at +425 odds, and they’re ahead of the New York Knicks (+650) and Miami Heat (+1000).

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