When Carson Wentz shredded his knee in Los Angeles in 2017, most people gave up the Eagles’ season for lost.

Grown men cried.

Five years later, Joel Embiid is hurt. Really hurt. He’s got a right fractured orbital and a concussion. He’s out for at least the first two games of the semifinal series against the Heat, which begins in Miami on Monday. Add these injuries to his torn right thumb ligament, he’s certainly diminished for all of it.

Grown men are crying again. Generally, they’re the same men.

If they want to stop their tears, all they need to do is look backward, and hope history repeats itself.

Keep the faith

The Sixers need to split the first two games in Florida, and that means winning Game 1. The Heat won’t have point guard Kyle Lowry, and they might lay down a bit, relieved that they don’t have to face the most dominant player since Shaq. But even Shaq had help.

Wentz had put in three-fourths of an MVP season when he hurt his knee, but as we realized in subsequent seasons, he hadn’t done it alone. He had weapons all over the field. He had the best offensive line in the NFL, and maybe the best in team history. He had stars in their primes on the defensive side of the ball.

But you could barely hear the (my) voice of reason for all the wailing and all of the woe. Two months later the Eagles had their first Super Bowl title.

» READ MORE: Even without Carson Wentz, Eagles still a Super Bowl contender | Marcus Hayes

It has been oversimplified that Nick Foles delivered masterful performances in getting them there. That is legend, and that is a myth, but we need both, but facts are facts. Foles played exceptionally well in three of his five meaningful starts down that stretch. The rest of the team carried him in the other games.

Granted, there’s an argument to be made that Embiid means more to the Sixers. There’s also an argument that Embiid’s supporting cast is far better than Wentz’s.

Step up

James Harden is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, still in his prime. He has a history of playoff fades. Beat the Heat without Joel and Harden’s a hero.

Tobias Harris keeps crying about wanting to be an All-Star. If he produces against Miami the way he produced against Toronto, this time next year, he will be.

Second-year guard Tyrese Maxey has the perfect opportunity to prove to everyone he’s not a mirage; that he’s a bona fide star in the making, not dependent on the presence of the most versatile center in the history of the game.

Doc Rivers wants to expunge the ghosts of the three 3-1 series leads he’s blown as a head coach. A series win over the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, with Embiid either absent or compromised, would make the critics’ voices sound hollower than ever.

Role players

So who’s going to be Nick Foles? That would have to be Harden. He’s making $43 million, and wants to make $223 million more. Earn it.

Who’s going to be, say, Zach Ertz? That would be Harris. Ertz caught 33 passes in the Eagles’ six-game run to glory, two for touchdowns, including the clincher in Super Bowl LII. Harris can justify his max contract in a series against Jimmy Butler, whom the Sixers traded away in order to keep Harris. This is a chance at validation that comes once in a lifetime.

Who will be the Fletcher Cox/Brandon Graham/Malcolm Jenkins? Well, Matisse Thybulle, the team’s best perimeter defender, owes the Sixers three games, since his vaccination status kept him out of Canada. He’s unvaccinated, but he’d better be fully caffeinated against Miami’s attack.

And who’s going to produce like Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Torrey Smith? That will have to be Maxey. Instant, unbridled offense every night. No nights off. No timidness. No disappearing acts.

And who’s going to be Corey Clement -- a guy who comes out of nowhere and contributes far above his pay scale? How about Georges Niang? How about Shake Milton? How about Furkan Korkmaz, finding one of his incandescent streaks at the right time?

The Sixers aren’t favored to win the series, and they shouldn’t be. If I had to bet, I’d take the Heat in five without Embiid, in six if he comes back.

Well, the Eagles weren’t favored either. Ever. And I wouldn’t have bet on them, either. But I certainly didn’t count them out.

I’m not counting the Sixers out, either.

Neither should you.