It was reported this last week and very apparent in Saturday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors that Joel Embiid is not playing 100% now and for the rest of the playoffs.

Embiid injured his right thumb in their game three victory in Toronto, it will require surgery and it’s estimated to be roughly eight week recovery time according to reports.

At times he looked scared to drive to the basket, he wasn’t finishing at the rim the way that we have seen this season and shooting can’t be very easy with his thumb taped up the way it was on Saturday.

Embiid has had his most healthy year as he played in a career high of 68 games this year. While Embiid won’t let himself miss a playoff game or series due to this injury, it was clear on Saturday that this injury will affect Embiid’s performance from here on out.

This is exactly the reason why James Harden was brought to Philadelphia though. Sure, pairing Harden with Embiid has created an unguardable force on the Sixers’ offense at times, but one of the reasons Harden was brought in was because of his playoff experience and ability to take over games.

If the Sixers stand any chance of making a deep playoff run this season, Harden has to be more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball. The Sixers were able to get this far with Harden being a facilitator on offense but when you take a player of Embiid’s caliber back a notch, that isn’t going to work anymore. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris are very good players and have shown flashes of brilliance just in the last couple of games but no one is expecting Maxey or Harris to carry the Sixers on their back from here on out, they should expect Harden to be able to do that though.

If the Sixers are going to pay Harden upwards of $40 million for the next couple of seasons, the least he can do is step up now that Embiid won’t be himself. Even though the Sixers are up three games to one on the Raptors, the future is very uncertain with this Embiid injury. If Embiid can be 3/4ths the player that he was prior to the thumb injury, they still have a chance. They just need Harden to go out and be Harden.

Photo via Getty Images

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