Sixers’ Doc Rivers Issues Blunt Message Following Joel Embiid’s Injury

The Philadelphia 76ers had themselves a scare when Joel Embiid had to leave their game against the Chicago Bulls on March 22 due to calf tightness.

Joel Embiid has mild right calf tightness. He did not play second half. He is expected to play Friday. Doc Rivers says he is not concerned but they are going on a long flight with 3 more games on West Coast and out of precaution they sat Joel second half

— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) March 23, 2023

Although Embiid was confirmed to be okay afterward, the Sixers were already dealing with James Harden‘s absence due to an Achilles injury.

James Harden will be OUT for tonight’s matchup with Achilles soreness

This is the right call from the Sixers perspective

— Sean Barnard (@Sean_Barnard1) March 22, 2023

During his postgame press conference, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers explained why the Sixers will prioritize health when the playoffs come around.

“We’ve gone into the playoffs two years in a row with injuries,” Rivers told reporters after the Sixers beat the Bulls. “We all know you don’t win in the playoffs if your key guys aren’t healthy. Period. And so we’re going to do whatever we can to be healthy.”

Embiid dealt with multiple injuries during the 2022 playoffs, including an orbital fracture and concussion, causing him to miss multiple games that may have very well made the difference in their next series against the Miami Heat, which they lost in six games.

ESPN Sources: Joel Embiid won’t travel for Games 1 and 2 in Miami, but there’s optimism he could return as soon as either Game 3 or 4 in Philadelphia. He needs to clear concussion protocols and see doctor mid-week on his orbital fracture. More on NBA Countdown at 12:30 ET on ABC.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 1, 2022

The Sixers are in a tight battle for seeding in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but since they have all but insured that they will have a top-three seed in the East, risking making the injury worse by going for the highest seed possible could spell their doom in the playoffs again.

Doc Rivers Said Joel Embiid’s Injury is ‘Not Concerning’

There was plenty of fuss about Embiid’s sudden disappearance when the Sixers played against the Bulls with no update on what was going on.

“Very strange to have gone nearly an entire quarter and have no update on Joel Embiid, who didn’t come out with the team to start the 3rd quarter,” tweeted Sixers reporter Derek Bodner. “The Sixers are up 91-69 with 2:31 left in the 3rd, so they might not need him, but fans are understandably a bit on edge.”

During his postgame press conference, Rivers confirmed it was a calf injury while adding that there isn’t much to be concerned about long-term.

“Not much, not at all really,” Rivers said when asked if he was worried about the injury, via Philly Voice reporter Kyle Neubeck. “I think he’ll be ready for next game…whenever you hear calf you just say, that’s it. But not concerned.”

Insider Thinks Sixers Have ‘Predicament’ With James Harden

With James Harden reportedly dealing with his Achilles injury, Neubeck said that his absence creates an interesting predicament regarding how the Sixers will approach the rest of their regular season games going forward.

“A knock for Harden puts the Sixers in an interesting predicament down the stretch,” Neubeck said. “His play has been absolutely essential to Philadelphia’s push toward the top of the league, giving them a chance to capture the No. 2 seed in the East or perhaps climb as high as No. 1 with some good fortune (and good performances) between now and the end of the season. Securing at least the No. 2 seed could have an outsized impact on their ability to make it out of the second round — with the Celtics tailing off late in the year, homecourt against Boston could be the difference between beating the Celtics and falling in the same spot as in years past.”

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