Joel Embiid has been the 76ers' best player this season. He's a Defensive Player of The Year candidate, a monster down low, and his rapport with Ben Simmons gives Philadelphia one of the best young combos in the league. With Philadelphia going to its first playoffs since 2012, a healthy Embiid will be monumentally important to making a serious run.
However, if what head coach Brett Brown said is true, then the 76ers might have a rough start to their postseason return. In a radio call Tuesday, Brown said Embiid is unlikely to be ready by Game 1 of the playoffs. Embiid is currently missing time with an orbital fracture around his left eye. via NBC Sports Philadelphia
As a guest on the Mike Missanelli Show on 97.5 TheFanatic, Brett Brown said there's a "less than 50 percent chance" the Sixers' big man will be able to play when the NBA playoffs open.
"I do not think that. I don't think anybody thinks that," Brown said when asked if Embiid could be ready for Game 1. "I think it's just trying to get him with the ball in his hands - touch a ball. At some point soon really focus on the cardio side of it all. All of those things that will equal him playing an incredibly physical, fast playoff game. Right now we're starting to make inroads but I think it would be misleading to suggest that he could play in Game 1."
If the 76ers have to go into the playoffs without Embiid, then that's bad news. He leads the team in on-court net rating and has such a noticeable impact on the floor. Not to mention that the playoffs are a different game from the regular season. Teams' schemes change and are designed to exploit weaknesses. The 76ers without Embiid is one giant weakness to exploit.
This doesn't mean Embiid is out for the entire playoffs. Only the start of them. He did post a picture on Snapchat of him wearing a mask, so he seems to be getting ready for game action soon.
Life without Embiid is less than ideal for the 76ers, and it sounds like they'll have to try playing without him for a little while longer. So far, they've managed to win games without him, but that's in the regular season. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the playoffs.