By Dylan MacKinnon
This Series has not been particularly kind to either team. The Sixers may be up 3-1, but yesterday it was confirmed Joel Embiid has a ligament tear in his right thumb. While he is expected to play through it, it will require surgery in the offseason and may impact his play on the court. For the Raptors, they have been missing their ROTY Scottie Barnes for most of the series, and now Fred VanVleet is out for Game 5 tonight. Meaning both teams will have to overcome injuries to win tonight.
It is unclear exactly when Embiid injured his thumb. Presumably sometime in Game 5 before he hit the game-winning 3. Though he clearly had some discomfort in that hand even before the playoffs. Before this, he was dealing with a cut on his finger for months. He also dealt with a wrist injury, back soreness, and several other nagging injuries. Still, he only missed 5 games due to injuries this season, with the other 9 games coming while he dealt with Covid. Embiid has played through injuries all year. Doc Rivers said the injury can’t get worse. So it is a matter of how much they can manage the pain, and how it will impact Embiid’s game. Embiid finished with 21pts, 8 rebounds, and shot 7-16 in game 4. But in game 3, where he suffered the injury, he finished with 33 pts.
“I would imagine that I keep playing and probably do something after the season… It’s the playoffs. Nothing is gonna stop me. So I just got to keep going and hope for the best… I’d say it was more [bothersome] when it comes to rebounding, at the free-throw line, and passing”- Joel Embiid
For the Raptors, they will be without Fred VanVleet (hip). He suffered the injury in the first half of Game 4 and never returned to the game. He was averaging 13.8pts, 6.3asts, and 3 rebounds in the series. VanVleet started the series hot but struggled in games 3 and 4 before leaving with an injury. They are expected to have Scottie Barnes tonight, but his effectiveness remains in question. He left game 1 with an ankle sprain, and then missed the next two games. Barnes returned for game 4 but scored only 6 points on 1-6 shooting. He did pull down 11 rebounds though in 26 minutes.
If the Sixers can win this game they will have off until at least Saturday. They are still waiting on the results of the Heat-Hawks series, where the Heat are up 3-1. That series could conclude as soon as tomorrow. Sixers would then travel to Miami for games 1 and 2. If the Sixers don’t win tonight, game 6 will be Thursday Night in Toronto. The Sixers won both home games so far in this series decisively.
Tip off tonight is at 8pm. Devon Givens will have you for the Pre-Game show starting at 7:50, and then Tom McGinnis is on the call. Win or lose, make sure to stick around after the game for the Post-Game Show with Devon Givens.