Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is expected to miss the first game of the NBA playoffs due to a broken orbital bone. The Sixers will open their postseason schedule Saturday night at 8:00 ET against the Miami Heat.
When Embiid returns for the third-seeded Sixers, he will need to wear a mask to protect the injury. The All-Star center suffered the injury on March 28 when he collided with teammate Markelle Fultz.
"I don't think I'm ready to play," Embiid told reporters. "It still doesn't feel all the way right."
Embiid and rookie Ben Simmons combined to form a dominant duo. Simmons is the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award, while Embiid averaged 22.9 PPG and 11 RPG in 63 appearances during the 2017-18 season.
Embiid emphasized that the injury has progressed at a rapid pace, so he should return to action soon than later. The big man will be sorely missed in Game 1, though, as he will serve as the primary defender for Heat big man Hassan Whiteside.
Embiid and Whiteside have engaged in several legendary matchups in the past, making a potential meeting later in the series all the more interesting. Embiid is also a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
The Sixers will enter the 2018 postseason riding a 15-game winning streak. Keep it here on AXS.com for more NBA news and tickets to select games.