Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid Diagnosed With Sprained LCL

The Philadelphia 76ers completed the first round's only sweep when they put away the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday afternoon, but an injury to their superstar center Joel Embiid is casting doubt over their prospects in the next round. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the MVP candidate has been diagnosed with an LCL sprain and may have to play with a brace when and if he returns in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Embiid suffered the injury in the 76ers' Game 3 102-97 win over the Nets. Despite the sweep, it was a series to forget for Embiid: the six-time All-Star averaged 20.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game with a mediocre .462 field goal percentage.

Earlier this week, 76ers coach Doc Rivers expressed pessimism that Embiid could be ready in time for Game 1 of the second round. Given his struggles even when healthy in the first round, a diminished Embiid could spell disaster for the 76ers.

Despite Embiid's regular season excellence, the 76ers have yet to make it past the conference semi-finals since drafting Embiid in 2014. Since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, he has averaged 27.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game with a .503 field goal percentage in the regular season compared to 23.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game with a .467 field goal percentage in the postseason. If the 76ers are going to finally break through this year, they'll need Embiid to narrow that gap, and that will be difficult if he's less than 100%.

The 76ers will play the winners of the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks series in the second round. The Celtics hold a commanding 3-1 lead. If they take care of business and win at home on Tuesday night, they'll host the 76ers on April 29th. For Embiid's sake, the 76ers should cross their fingers and hope that the Hawks can extend the first round a couple extra games.

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