Joel Embiid is doubtful for Sixers-Nets Game 4 with left knee soreness

Eric He
·Yahoo Sports Contributor
Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid watches during the first half in Game 3 of the team's first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid is listed as doubtful for the team's Game 4 matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

After sitting out Game 3 against the Brooklyn Nets, Joel Embiid is listed as doubtful for Game 4 of the Philadelphia 76ers’ first round playoff series on Saturday with left knee soreness.

Embiid warmed up before Game 3, which the Sixers won 131-115 to take a 2-1 series lead, but was scratched minutes before tip-off.

On Friday, he took 3-pointers dressed in slippers during practice.

But ultimately, he was downgraded from “questionable” status prior to Games 1, 2 and 3. Before Game 3, Embiid described the pain as tendinitis and described the challenges to NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“At the end of the day, what cures it is just loading,” Embiid said. “You gotta load in the right way. Can’t do too much and then can’t also sit out and do nothing. It’s hard to manage, but gotta do it. Gotta push through the pain and see where it goes.”

He might not be pushing through the pain quite yet in Game 4, especially with the Sixers regaining home court advantage after a surprising Game 1 home loss.

In his absence, the Sixers turned to Greg Monroe and Boban Marjanovic. Monroe had 9 points and 13 rebounds in Game 3.

Do Sixers need Embiid against the Nets?

Head coach Brett Brown admitted to ESPN that he didn’t have a “gut feel” regarding Embiid’s injury and that he prepares as if Embiid won’t be active.

Embiid averaged 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in 22.5 minutes in the series’ first two games. Though the Sixers are still stacked with talent without him, the center presents a dynamic skillset that puts the team on a whole other level.

But according to Brown, the plan is to be conservative, to “buy time” for his main piece. And in a first round series for a team expected to make a deep playoff run, it might not be worth the risk.

"That is just the path that we're on with Joel,” Brown said. “There is zero doubt he is our crown jewel and just with the phase and stage and how it's played out, to my best ability, this is how I see the world nowadays. And that is Joel's path in my opinion."

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