Joel Embiid went 0-for-12 from the field in the second half on Monday night. The All-Star center still finished with 17 points and 21 rebounds but looked like a shell of himself in the second half during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Sixers will return home to Philadelphia with the series tied 2-2. No big deal, right? Wrong. Embiid left the court in the second quarter and headed to the locker room for treatment. He was escorted by Sixers GM Elton Brand who seemed to flash a smile at the cameras when they returned a few minutes later. Everything was fine. But it wasn’t. Embiid struggled mightily the rest of the way, never regaining his rhythm or finding his footing.
“I don’t know [what happened],” Rivers told reporters. “He went in the back so I know something was bothering him but not sure what it was.”
He literally couldn’t plant on his injured right knee. The 7-footer has been playing with a small tear in his meniscus throughout the second-round playoff series with no problems. Until now. Embiid confirmed it hurt when he tried to jump and dunking the ball became impossible. He also struggled to contain John Collins and Clint Capela on the defensive end.
“I guess it’s already known,” Embiid said of the knee injury. “There’s no need to explain myself anymore. I’m just trying to do the best I can.”
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Embiid Won’t Be 100-Percent Moving Forward
Embiid entered Game 4 averaging 35.3 points per game while dominating every single matchup. He was unstoppable, barely wincing in pain despite crashing hard to the floor on multiple plays.
There was some hobbling in Game 3 but nothing too worrisome. Not anymore. Fear and loathing has set in on the Sixers’ championship trail.
“As far as me being 100-percent, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Embiid said. “Obviously until the season is actually over, so I just got to go out and manage it and deal with it.”
The Cameroonian vowed to keep getting back up after Game 3. Embiid won’t ever quit on his teammates but he’s clearly hurting. He’s likely headed for surgery after the postseason.
“There’s no excuses,” Embiid said. “I got to do better.”
Teammates Talk Adjustments, Being More Aggressive
There was plenty of blame to go around in Game 4. Everyone was trying to play “hero ball” but no one was hitting any shots. The Sixers went 11-for-27 from three-point range (40.7%) and 37-for-85 from the field (43.5%).
Tobias Harris recorded a team-high 20 points but went long stretches without scoring in the second half. They stopped pushing the pace and looking for open shooters after building up an 18-point lead.
“Big adjustment is just sticking with what was working,” Harris said. “Obviously, that was us just being scrappy, getting out there in transition, and offensively making the correct play. We did get away from it in the second half.”
Their ball movement came to a halt, too. All-Star point guard Ben Simmons (11 points, nine assists) admitted that he needed to be more aggressive.
“I definitely should have been more aggressive and attacked more [in the second half],” Simmons said. “I think the spacing was a little off in this game. We didn’t get to our spacing and we weren’t as aggressive in that second half.”