Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid's Second-Round Status Unclear

The Philadelphia 76ers' second-round matchup with the Boston Celtics starts on Monday, but it's still up in the air whether or not they'll be without their MVP candidate. Speaking with the media Thursday, 76ers coach Doc Rivers explained that Joel Embiid was still meeting with doctors and that his status for Game 1 remains unclear.

Embiid was diagnosed with an LCL sprain following the 76ers' first-round Game 3 102-97 win over the Nets. He missed Game 4, which the 76ers won 96-88 to complete the series sweep.

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 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.

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%.

To his credit, Embiid was deadly against the Celtics this season, averaging 36.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game with an excellent .695 true shooting percentage over four matchups. If he can maintain that efficacy, the 76ers will have a great chance to advance to the conference finals. But if Embiid needs a game or two to find his footing, the 76ers could be looking at yet another frustratingly early playoff exit.

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