PHILADELPHIA -- Joel Embiid said he could miss Thursday's showdown with the Boston Celtics after dislocating his left ring finger in the first quarter of Monday night's 120-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Wells Fargo Center.
"That's a possibility," Embiid said after finishing with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists in 32 minutes. "I want to play. It's a big game. Last time we played them, we had great success, but at the end of the day, whatever they want me to do. Obviously, I'll try to fight it, but they care about me, so whatever they want to do. ... We'll see."
When Embiid came to the podium for his postgame interview after meeting with the team's doctor, he wasn't wearing anything on his left hand or finger. Embiid said the evaluation was about the ligaments in his finger.
"They were just talking about the ligament," Embiid said. "They're still figuring out what's next."
The finger became an issue early in the game, when he began flexing his left hand midway through the first quarter. Eventually, he went back to the locker room to get it checked out. Embiid said that at that point, he felt his finger "snapping, and I thought I fractured it."
After he received X-rays and was cleared, he returned to the game. Then, after coming in and again clearly being in discomfort, he went to guard Thunder center Steven Adams in the post and quickly turned away, signaling for a timeout. His ring finger was pointing in a direction it was not supposed to be.
"I came back in, and then it just happened," Embiid said. "It was unfortunate."
After again going to the locker room, Embiid returned at the start of the second quarter with his middle and ring fingers taped together and checked back into the game. That sight was a relief to the Sixers, who saw Embiid's finger and initially were concerned it could be a serious injury.
"Yeah, I nearly threw up when I saw that," Ben Simmons (17 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists) said with a smile. "But I'm glad he came back out. We needed him. He's a big part of this team. We were glad to have him back out there."
"I was worried," said Al Horford, who finished with 13 points in 34 minutes for Philadelphia. "I have had a dislocated finger, but I don't know if it was dislocated or more severe. It looked pretty bad. I was relieved once I saw him come in so quickly and be able to go for the start of the second quarter."
Although Embiid was able to keep playing with the fingers taped, it was clear that he wasn't himself. He admitted after the game that he couldn't go up with two hands to secure rebounds -- one reason Adams was able to finish with 24 points and 15 rebounds, including nine offensive rebounds, matching Philadelphia's team output in that category.
With the Sixers in the midst of a four-game losing streak, Embiid said he was determined to do what he could to get his team a victory.
"It was pretty bad," he said. "I basically could only play with one hand. It was really bad. But in the midst of the losing streak, I just wanted to make sure that I do everything possible to get us a win, and I was glad to get us a win.
"The consequences, you assume them later, but as the leader, I wanted to go out and show your teammates that you want to win, and you're going to do whatever possible to do so."
Even with a lessened Embiid, the Sixers managed to hold off the Thunder, who entered the game with five straight victories and wins in nine of their past 10 games. After taking a 14-point lead in the third quarter, Philadelphia saw the lead dwindle to one in the fourth before managing to hold on, thanks to a late 7-0 run that gave the Sixers some breathing room.
In the end, though, a win is a win -- and, after losing those four in a row, the Sixers were happy to get one however they could. Embiid's return from injury was, in the eyes of Sixers coach Brett Brown, a catalyst toward their doing so.
"For him to go back in and come back out and play, I was shocked [he] was able to come back out and play," Brown said. "That is a tough return to the court. That is a competitive statement. I appreciate him. I respect that. We needed to play well here at home. We haven't been on the right side of the win-loss column lately."