Sixers Get Massive Injury Update Ahead of Game 2

Sixers stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey

Getty Tyrese Maxey #0 and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers embrace.

The path to contention gets tougher for the Philadelphia 76ers as both their top stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are listed as questionable to play in crucial Game 2 of their NBA playoff first-round series against the New York Knicks.

The questionable tag was attached to Embiid as soon as Game 1 ended following his first-half injury scare. On the other hand, Maxey joined Embiid only on Monday (April 22) morning with a non-COVID illness. He was absent in their morning shootaround at Madison Square Garden, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

If both stars do not play, the Sixers will potentially go home with a 0-2 series deficit.

Between the two Sixers stars, Embiid has the better chance to suit up in Game 2 after coach Nick Nurse dismissed any notion of shutting down the reigning MVP for the remainder of the series.

“I don’t think so,” Nurse told reporters after Game 1 when asked if they considered shutting Embiid down. “He really is a warrior, and he’s battling. I think he absolutely wants to play.”

Embiid finished with 29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in 37 minutes. But he missed all of his five attempts and did not grab a rebound in the fourth quarter.

Embiid was never the same again after his awkward fall late in the first half.

He grimaced in pain as soon as he landed following a jaw-dropping alley-oop dunk off the backboard in the first half. He exited with still 2:37 in the first half but surprisingly returned to start the second half.

Embiid missed his first two shots as his knee clearly bothered him. The quickness and the burst of energy he showed to lead all scorers with 18 points in the opening half left with him when he went to the locker room following the injury scare.

The Sixers are 16-27 without Embiid this season.

Tyrese Maxey Praises Joel Embiid’s Warrior Mentality

Maxey is confident Embiid will soldier on in Game 2 even on one good knee.

“Nothing with Joel surprises me now,” Tyrese Maxey told reporters. “He’s always a fighter. He’s always going to try and give it his all for his team. So if he thinks he can go, he’ll for sure be out there.”

But now comes the question of his own fighting heart.

Maxey only missed 12 games in the regular season with two of them due to illness. But with a potential 0-2 deficit staring at them, will Maxey put up a brave front and play in Game 2?

The Sixers are 4-8 without Maxey this season.

Kyle Lowry’s Leadership Needed

If both Embiid and Maxey sit out, the enormous pressure to lead the Sixers to an improbable Game 2 victory will fall on the shoulders of Philadelphia’s own Kyle Lowry.

The 38-year-old Lowry delivered 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 39 minutes in Game 1. But the Sixers will need more from him especially with the potential absence of their top stars looming.

“We gotta figure out ways to play when [Embiid] is off the floor,” Kyle Lowry told reporters after Game 1. “Play with some pace, play with a little bit more decisiveness. You know, he’s such a dominant force for us, and we get comfortable when he’s there. But when he’s not there, we gotta find ways to get other guys involved, get the ball moving, play with a little bit more energy and communicate a lot better.”

But now, they also need to figure out how to play without Maxey too.