Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra admitted that Joel Embiid being available for the Philadelphia 76ers would change everything immediately. The Heat took advantage of the 76ers being without Embiid in the first two games as on Wednesday night the Heat beat the 76ers 119-103 to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
In Game 6 of the first round series versus the Toronto Raptors, Embiid sustained a right facial fracture and a mild concussion. Embiid was ruled out for the first two games versus the Heat and not having in Game 3 would be a major blow for the 76ers.
"It changes dramatically," Spoelstra said, per ESPN. "You're talking about MVP talent, you know? So we'll just have to see. "We knew that this series was going to shift, and it was going to change pretty dramatically [if he returns].
It's better for it to change dramatically when we're able to get a couple wins [first] but yeah, he changes the equation quite a bit."
The 76ers desperately need Embiid
The 76ers were blown out in each of the first two games versus the Heat.
The 76ers are a completely different team without Embiid and the Heat took the advantage to open a 2-0 lead. After a Game 2 loss, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers couldn't confirm Embiid's availability for Game 3. "I really don't know," Rivers said.
"We talked [Tuesday], and we talked [Wednesday]. "He looked good, as far as talking. But he's got so many steps to go through, and I don't think he's cleared any of them right now. So we just have to wait and see."
Embiid has had a great season and he is one of the candidates for the NBA MVP award. Once Embiid went down and it was announced he would be out for the first two games, many expected the 76ers to struggle in Games 1 and 2 versus the Heat.
That was indeed the case and the 76ers are now 2-0 down to the Heat. Even if Embiid is not able to play in Game 3, the 76ers have made it clear they won't back down to the Heat. "That's what the film is for, and that's what adjustments are for," Rivers said.
"And we will be ready for Game 3." The 76ers have one of the best fans in the NBA and they will certainly receive a big support when they host the Heat on Friday night. It remains to be seen if the 76ers can beat the Heat and avoid going 3-0 down. No team in NBA history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit.