76ers C Joel Embiid doubtful for Game 5 with knee injury

AP Sports

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) touches his right side after he fell on the court during the first half of Game 4 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Washington Wizards, Monday, May 31, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is doubtful for Game 5 because of a sore right knee.

Embiid had an MRI on Tuesday and his status will be decided before Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the decision on his status was not made official.

Embiid was listed as doubtful on the NBA injury report and Seth Curry (left ankle) and George Hill (left knee) are both probable.

The Sixers lead the Wizards 3-1 in the first-round Eastern Conference series. Game 5 is in Philadelphia in front of an expected first full house of the season.

Philadelphia was poised for its first sweep since 1985 before Embiid was hurt and the Wizards rallied to win behind 27 points from Bradley Beal.

The NBA MVP finalist wound up on the floor behind the baseline after having his shot blocked by Washington’s Robin Lopez on a drive to the basket in the first quarter.

After staying down for a moment, a wincing Embiid rose and then put his hand on his lower right back.

He remained in the game for the time being, before eventually heading to the locker room in the last minute of the period.

Embiid came into the game averaging more than a point per minute in the best-of-seven series.

He scored a postseason career-high 36 points in 28 minutes in a 29-point win for the 76ers in Game 3 on Saturday.

The Sixers reached the Eastern Conference semifinal with consecutive 50-win seasons in 2018 and 2019 and bottomed out last season when they were swept in the first round by Boston. That sparked roster changes that brought in starters Danny Green and Seth Curry and backup big man Dwight Howard. The Sixers could start Mike Scott at center and keep Howard as the backup, or shift more minutes at the five to Ben Simmons.

“Obviously,” Simmons said, “we need Joel to win. He’s a big part of this team.”

Embiid is in the running to become the first Sixer to win NBA MVP since Allen Iverson in 2001. Moses Malone (1982-83), Julius Erving (1980-81) and Wilt Chamberlain (who won three straight from 1965-1968) all won the NBA’s top honor.

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