Joel Embiid Ruled Out Against Knicks Tonight
As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, Joel Embiid will be out for tonight's game against the Knicks due to a left shoulder sprain. Further evaluation on that injury is needed, so Embiid will be joining his co-star Ben Simmons on the inactive list.
Embiid missed nine games earlier this year with a torn ligament in his finger; Philadelphia was able to go 6-3 during that stretch. However, they did so being led by Ben Simmons, who is also out tonight with a nerve impingement in his lower back that is causing him to miss two weeks at minimum.
This news comes at an especially unfortunate time for the Sixers' center, who just had a career-high 49 points against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. Just a few weeks ago, Embiid was being booed by Philadelphia fans who were unhappy with the success, or lack thereof, of their talented roster. Reminding them, and the league, of the dominance he is able to assert on opposing teams was surely a confidence-boost for the notoriously cocky big-man.
Embiid, in eight minutes of action, scored just three points last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers before exiting the game due to his shoulder injury. He returned to the bench, only to leave again for the locker room and then be ruled out for the rest of the contest. Philadelphia went on to lose in Cleveland 108-94, with highly-paid forwards Tobias Harris and Al Horford combining for 21 points in 70 total minutes. The 76ers have dealt with numerous issues this year, due to roster composition and injuries: these recent ones to Simmons and Embiid will surely not help.
The most likely candidates to replace Embiid in the starting lineup are Forward Glenn Robinson III and Guard Furkan Korkmaz. Korkmaz has played 186 minutes without Simmons and Embiid on the court with him, and has put up 21.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists per-36 minutes in that time.
It is also likely that forward Norvel Pelle will receive an increased role in Embiid's absence. This season, he is averaging 2.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 10 minutes per contest. Pelle was unavailable for the last two games with an upper respiratory illness, but he has been cleared to play tonight and will probably see increased action and touches.
For the Knicks, expect more of an opportunity for Mitchell Robinson to build on his 12-point effort against Charlotte, and a freer hand for Dennis Smith Jr. to penetrate.
Philadelphia will certainly miss Simmons and Embiid tonight, but the Knicks still don't have an easy matchup in this intra-division game.