Joel Embiid will miss the 76ers’ game Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center against the Boston Celtics because of the injury to his left ring finger. He saw a specialist on Wednesday and the team said later in the evening that Embiid is scheduled for additional consultations on Thursday.
Matisse Thybulle, who missed the last seven games with a right knee sprain and bone bruise, was a full participant in practice and will be available against the Celtics.
The Sixers are 24-14 overall, including 17-2 at home. They are 2-0 against Boston this year. The Celtics are 25-10 after Wednesday’s 129-114 home loss to San Antonio.
Embiid also missed Tuesday’s practice to undergo further, off-site evaluation on the finger. He suffered the injury during the first quarter of Monday’s 120-113 win over the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder.
Embiid remained in the game after heading to the locker room twice in the quarter. He had his hand taped on the second trip to the locker room.
Despite admittedly playing in a lot of pain, Embiid finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and a season-high eight assists in 32 minutes, 37 seconds. This season, Embiid is averaging 23.4 points and 12.3 rebounds in 31:03. In the seven games he has missed, the Sixers are 3-4.
Al Horford will move from power forward to center to replace Embiid. Coach Brett Brown wasn’t ready to announce who will start for Horford at power forward.
Horford has appeared more comfortable at center and played there for long stretches against the Thunder, finishing with 13 points (6-for-10 from the field, 1-for-2 from three-point range) along with four rebounds and four assists.
“Obviously we will miss Joel, but we have to find a way to play, probably more ball movement at times and just do different things because we don’t have the luxury of being able to throw it to [Embiid] in the post and do some things like that,” Horford said after practice. “As a group, we have to adjust to that.”
When it was suggested to Brown that Horford appears more comfortable at center, the coach replied, “Possibly.”
He then expanded on the issue.
“With that, there is a whole other set of challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities,” Brown said about having Embiid out. “You say, ‘What does the world look like without Joel?' [and] my mind immediately goes to defense.”
Last year, Embiid earned a spot on the all-NBA second-team all-defensive squad. This season, he is averaging 1.4 blocked shots, but his overall importance is shown by the fact that Embiid is seventh in the NBA in player efficiency rating (25.5) for players who have appeared in 30 or more games. PER is a rating of a player’s per-minute productivity.
Thybulle was hurt late in the Sixers’ 125-108 win over Washington on Dec. 21.
The Sixers went 3-4 in the seven games he was sidelined. He is second on the team in three-point field goal percentage, having hit 31 of 67 (.463), but his biggest value is on defense. He is also second on the Sixers in steals (1.4 per game). He is averaging 4.8 points in 17:37.
“I feel good,” Thybulle said after practice. “I am excited.”
Now he is raring to go.
“To be out for that time was frustrating,” Thybulle said. “When one guy goes down, another guys steps up, and they did a good job there.”
Brown said that he got a greater appreciation for Thybulle while he was sidelined.