SAN FRANCISCO — Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid will undergo an MRI on his left knee after injuring it in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s 119-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
The injury occurred with 4:04 left in the game as Embiid was being double-teamed by the Warriors’ Jonathan Kuminga and Draymond Green. After Kuminga poked the ball away from him, Embiid fell to the ground to retrieve it, and Kuminga subsequently fell on top of his knee.
Embiid grabbed the knee and was in visible pain. He ultimately got up and limped to the locker room and did not return to the game.
Embiid had missed the Sixers’ previous two games because of knee soreness in that same knee. He was listed as questionable heading into Tuesday’s contest, with his final status decided after he warmed up.
“Medical cleared him, and Joel is a big part in that. He said he was feeling good,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said.
Nurse explained that Tuesday’s injury is “kind of unrelated to what’s been bothering” Embiid, adding, “We just have to wait.”
Even though Embiid said he felt well enough to compete against the Warriors, he didn’t appear to be playing at 100 percent. Throughout the game, there was little to no lift for Embiid when he defended the basket, making him far less of a rim protector. During one play, Embiid offered a late challenge at the basket, but his legs buckled beneath him with no contact, and he fell to the floor.
On offense, Embiid didn’t attack the hoop much, settling for 3-pointers and midrange shots. When he did try to work his way to the basket, he didn’t look as explosive, instead attempting to slowly and methodically back his defender down.
“He said he’s more rusty — he hadn’t been on the court in five days — but he said he felt good,” Nurse said. “He felt like he wasn’t quite playing like his normal self, but he felt like that was more rust and rhythm than it was anything else.”
Embiid finished with 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting to go with seven rebounds, two assists and a team-low minus-21 net rating.
Embiid missed three games earlier in January due to left knee swelling. ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne reported that the injury is something Embiid and Philadelphia will have to manage for the remainder of the season.
Embiid can miss only five more games before becoming ineligible for postseason awards, including All-NBA team honors and MVP, because of the league’s new rule requiring a minimum of 65 games to qualify.
After Tuesday’s loss, Nurse was asked if that rule influenced the decision to let Embiid play.
“I can’t speak to that, but we are going to continue to do all of the things that are necessary, that they’ve been doing the whole time he’s been playing here,” Nurse said. “He has these checks, he gets to these points, medicals are good, they check him again, he says he’s good, he even said he felt good in the game tonight. We keep relaying to that.”
The 76ers have one day off before facing the Utah Jazz on Thursday in Salt Lake City.