The NBA playoffs are now completely wide open thanks to several devastating injuries. Two contenders have already been robbed of stars, throwing their championship pursuits into disarray. Now, Philadelphia 76ers center and MVP finalist Joel Embiid is the latest to suffer a potentially serious injury.
On Friday, it was revealed Embiid may have torn a ligament in his right thumb. While he's planning to play through the pain, it could seriously impact his ability to shoot and grip the ball.
The Sixers are currently up 3-0 on the Toronto Raptors in their first-round series. Given that lead, Philadelphia may want to give him a game or two off if possible.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns have already been devastated by injuries to key players. Bucks forward Khris Middleton has a sprained left MCL and is out at least two weeks. He'll be re-evaluated then and he could certainly miss more time after that. The Bucks are currently tied 1-1 with the Chicago Bulls in their opening round series.
The Suns have probably been hit the hardest, as star guard Devin Booker suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain. The 25-year-old is likely out two to three weeks, which is a huge blow to Phoenix. The Suns earned the top seed in the Western Conference and were favored by many to reach the NBA Finals. They're currently tied 1-1 in their series against the New Orleans Pelicans and may be in for a dogfight without Booker.
The Sixers, Bucks and Suns were all among the favorites to reach the finals and potentially win the title this season. Now all three are facing uncertain futures. It wouldn't be a shock if the Bucks and Suns lost in the opening round without their injured stars.
As for the Sixers, they will likely face the Miami Heat in the second round, a task that will be incredibly difficult in and of itself. But if Embiid isn't at 100 percent it would make winning that series even harder.
Injuries have completely thrown the NBA playoffs into chaos. As a result, the race to the title is wide open.