Joel Embiid Injury Update: Starting Lineup Options, 76ers Championship Odds

According to Shams Charania, “Joel Embiid suffered a right orbital fracture and mild concussion in series-clinching Game 6.” The MVP-candidate is out for Games 1 and 2, but there is optimism he will be back in Game 3. However, nothing is certain at this point – he could still miss the series. It’s not a mild injury, and Embiid is extremely likely to be affected even if he plays in the Second Round against the 1st seed Miami Heat. He was already playing through a torn ligament in his thumb, and this will limit him even further. This development is crushing for the 76ers and could not have come at a worse time. 

Options for 76ers Starting Lineup

Game 1 against the Miami Heat is slated for Monday night, and Embiid will miss it without question. It’s a safe assumption that the 76ers have to play without Embiid for at least a few games. He led the league in scoring this season at 30.6 PPG while also contributing 11.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 1.5 BPG. His elite rim protection and unstoppable post scoring will sorely be missed by the 76ers. Not only does Philadelphia lose their best player, but the injury is at a position where they have the least amount of depth.  

Philadelphia traded backup center Andre Drummond in the James Harden trade, so their options now include DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap, rookie Charles Bassey, and Paul Reed. Jordan’s style of play is ill-suited for today’s era, and his rim protection days are long gone. Millsap’s game is more transferable, but he is 37-years-old and limited on both ends of the court. Bassey is a 6’10” rookie who missed the entire Raptors series with a shoulder injury. Paul Reed makes the most sense considering he is healthier, far more athletic, and 6’9” with a 7’2” wingspan. Reed’s offense this season consisted mostly of cuts and putbacks. He showed signs of a post game, so that will be something to watch for. Optimistic fans will point to his performance on April 10th against the Pistons where he had 25 points and 6 rebounds. However, that was the last game of the season against the horrible, tanking Detroit Pistons. 

Impact on Heat Series & Championship Odds 

The Heat are now heavily favored to win this series, and the spread for Game 1 is -8.5 Heat. Bam Adebayo is a premier defender who will lock down the paint. His underrated offense will be a problem for the 76ers since Embiid’s defensive presence is no longer there. The Heat have a massive advantage at center, and they can match up in other areas as well. Jimmy Butler can hound James Harden all series while providing isolation scoring and playmaking. PJ Tucker is a defensive nightmare who will mark Tobias Harris. The already thin 76ers bench has to face perhaps the deepest bench in the league. Miami brings Herro, Robinson, Vincent, Oladipo, Martin, Morris, and Dedmon off the bench. With Miami easily handling the bench minutes, it’s going to be exceptionally difficult for Philadelphia to win this series. They already did not match up well, and now they have to do it without their best player on both sides of the court. 

Their championship odds have plummeted because of this news. It would be a miracle if they get past the Heat, much less win the Finals. While there may be value in banking on a quick return, I don’t think this is the case for Philadelphia. The Heat will dispatch the 76ers without too much of a problem, and Embiid wont be even 90% if he plays. I would not go near the 76ers championship odds right now. 

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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