There's no way to frame Joel Embiid's absence as a positive, but if you squint hard enough at the situation, you can at least talk yourself into it being the kind of challenge that presents an opportunity.
The Philadelphia 76ers announced Embiid would undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left ring finger—you know, the one that went directionally rogue on Monday while the other four digits on his left hand abided by the rules that govern which way fingers are supposed to point.
He'll be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks and will likely miss more time than that. Everybody's different, but Reggie Miller mentioned on Thursday's broadcast of the Sixers game that his recovery from a similar injury took much longer.
The Sixers must devote the period of Embiid's absence, whatever its duration, to settling on styles and sets that work best for their remaining healthy stars. They need to learn by experimenting, and there's no small amount of urgency here. Philadelphia has to figure out ways to maximize all its talent by the postseason, and these next few weeks could be key to getting Ben Simmons and Al Horford more comfortable and confident by putting them in positions to succeed.
Head coach Brett Brown appeared gung-ho on a significant overhaul halfway through his comments to reporters before Thursday's 109-98 win over the Boston Celtics, but then curiously equivocated about the extent of his plans to change things up:
"I'm putting a blowtorch, a bullet, many bullets, into what we used to do. It doesn't fit, and so shame on me to try to make it fit. We don't have Joel Embiid. ... It doesn't mean we have to completely pivot out to wild stuff that could be reckless, I don't think so. I think it's taking the house we've lived in and moving the furniture around a little bit. That's what I intend to do."
Blowtorch. Bullets. But also some light rearranging? How does that work exactly?