Before their game against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers learned they would need to get by without their franchise player for at least a little while. Joel Embiid, who gruesomely dislocated his ring finger on Monday, would undergo surgery and then be re-evaluated in one-to-two weeks.
That scenario would have set off alarm bells for the 76ers over the last few seasons, when navigating minutes without their All-NBA center was an enormous and consistent struggle. Last year, the Sixers were outscored by 3.5 points per 100 possessions with Embiid on the bench, a net drop-off of 11.1 points per 100 from how they performed with him on the floor. The season prior, their net rating dipped 13.5 points per 100 when he wasn't in the game. The year before that, it fell 11.9.
The team's dependence on Embiid was epitomized in last season's second-round playoff tilt against the Raptors, in which Philadelphia outscored Toronto by 90 points with Embiid on the floor but still lost the series.