CAMDEN, N.J. - Joel Embiid will be out Thursday night for the Sixers' game against the Boston Celtics, the eighth game he'll miss this season.
The Sixers' All-Star center dislocated his left ring finger Monday night vs. Oklahoma City. According to a team spokesperson, Embiid was visiting a specialist during practice Wednesday.
When Embiid exited the game with his finger splayed out in a separate direction from the rest of his hand, it was a nauseating sight.
Ben Simmons said he "nearly threw up," while Josh Richardson said, quite accurately, that it "looked crazy." Al Horford, who's suffered a dislocated finger in the past, was worried the injury was more severe and was relieved when Embiid returned to the game.
Embiid decided to play through pain to help the Sixers end their four-game losing streak, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds and a season-high eight assists.
"It was pretty bad. I was basically playing with one hand," Embiid said. "It's pretty bad, but in the midst of the losing streak I just wanted to make sure that I do everything possible to try to get us a win, and I'm glad we got the win."
Horford will take Embiid's place as the Sixers' starting center, while Brett Brown would not reveal his fifth starter. The Sixers are 3-4 in games Embiid has been out this season, most recently losing by 18 points to the Pacers on New Year's Eve and by 20 to the Nets on Dec. 20. Their net rating is plus-0.7 when he's off the floor compared to plus-6.7 when he's on it.
"I think as a group we have to play differently," Horford said. "Obviously, we miss Joel, but we have to find a way to play ... probably more ball movement at times and just doing different things because we don't have the luxury of being able to throw it to him in the post and do some things like that. So, as a group, we all have to adjust to that."
One reason the Sixers signed Horford this summer was that he'd be an upgrade over their options last year when Embiid was unavailable. He played very well in those situations early in the season, assuming a much more aggressive offensive role against the Pistons, Suns and Blazers. Over those three games, Horford averaged 26.7 points on 54.8 percent shooting.
The causes for Embiid's absences have been varied this year, though none have sidelined him for a sustained period. He's missed games because of a right ankle sprain, a suspension for fighting with Karl-Anthony Towns, an illness, left knee soreness and this finger injury.
Is Brown preparing for the possibility that Embiid will be out beyond Thursday?
"I'm trying to beat the Boston Celtics and prepare the team to go beat the Boston Celtics. But to think that I'm not thinking longer, whatever the news comes out, would be disingenuous. You have to think, well, what does this mean? … If you tilted the priorities of weight - where did you weight this practice? - it certainly was driven toward trying to beat Boston. But I would be lying if you didn't do some things in the event that you receive news."
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