NEW YORK -- Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has a "50 percent at best" chance of playing in Game 1 of the second round, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said. Embiid missed the Sixers' 96-88 win in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday because of a sprained right knee he injured during Game 3.
"I just don't know," Rivers said after Philadelphia finished off the sweep at Barclays Center.
Before the game, Rivers was asked if he sensed that Embiid would be out as long as the Nets series went.
"I can't answer that," he said. "But I'm not sure. I will say that."
Embiid sprained his right knee during the Sixers' Spencer Dinwiddie at the rim in crunch time.. Despite the injury, Embiid played 38 minutes blocked
"The blocked shot was huge," Rivers said. "But from my understanding, they checked his knee out right after the game because he was complaining about some [soreness] behind the knee, which is always a scary thing when it's behind the knee with players. And there was swelling already, which is way too early, so we did the MRI.
"As a coach, I hate that word," he continued. "I hate those three letters. Because it never comes out well. It just feel like that, whenever they tell the coach, 'Hey, we're going to get an MRI,' it doesn't turn out well most of the time. And this one did not."
Rivers joked pregame that, if the Nets "would like to trap all our 5s tonight, I would be really appreciative of that. I don't think they should change their game plan at all." Paul Reed started in Embiid's place, playing 32 minutes and finishing with 10 points and 15 rebounds, eight of them on the offensive glass, plus a block and a steal. Montrezl Harrell had one five-minute stint.
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Embiid has missed at least one postseason game because of injury or illness in five of the last six seasons. In 2021-22, Embiid missed the first two games of Philadelphia second-round series against the Miami Heat because of a facial fracture and concussion he sustained late in Game 6 of the first round against the Toronto Raptors.
"I talked to him [Friday] night. I mean, obviously, clearly, that's on your mind. Like, it is," Rivers said. "But, as I said [to him]: 'This is another obstacle in the story that we're going to write this year. And you're going to be OK. It may take a minute, but this is just part of it.' He's human. And goodness, this happens again. So, let's win, let's get him back on the floor and let's just keep on our own journey."
The Sixers won, and now they will have to wait. They will play the winner of the series between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks, which Boston currently leads 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Sunday, Game 5 scheduled for Tuesday and, if necessary, Games 6 and 7 on Thursday and next Saturday.
"Hopefully this rest is going to be big for him," Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey said.