Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid starts Game 4; coach Doc Rivers says thumb injury 'can't get worse'

TORONTO -- An initial exam of Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid's sprained right thumb suggested ligament damage, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, though an MRI still is needed to learn the extent of the injury.

"We feel like it's not a great injury," Rivers said before the 76ers' 110-102 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Sources told Shelburne and Wojnarowski on Friday that Embiid was feeling significant pain and discomfort in the thumb and that he could get an MRI in the near future to determine whether there is ligament damage.

Embiid was seen consistently grabbing his thumb throughout the loss Saturday. He finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in 39 minutes.

Rivers said he expects Embiid to get the MRI after the team returns to Philadelphia.

"Yeah, I mean, I guess we're gonna do the MRI," Rivers said. "I think we already know what it is, to be honest, but we just got to make sure. There's no really additional treatment to that, though."

Rivers also said he believes Embiid can't injure the thumb further by playing.

"Yeah, there's concern," he said. "But, you know, it is what it is. The one thing we know [is] it can't get worse."

Embiid came out for his usual pregame shooting routine about 45 minutes before tipoff. He was shooting with a wrap on the thumb and doing some dribbling with his right hand -- though often catching passes with his left.

Embiid appeared to suffer the injury, which the team is calling a right thumb sprain, in the first half of Philadelphia's 104-101 victory over Toronto in Game 3, in which Embiid hit the game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second to go. He had 28 of his 33 points in the second half and overtime to help drag the 76ers back from a 17-point first-half deficit.

He arrived at his postgame news conference nearly two hours after the game had ended. He was wearing a brace on his right (shooting) hand and with his right thumb taped.

"I don't exactly know what happened," Embiid said after the victory Wednesday. "But I just started feeling pain and think I might have twisted it. So we're gonna see what's going on [Thursday]."

When asked if the injury could possibly impact his availability for Game 4, Embiid said, "No. No chance."

Embiid was in good spirits at practice Friday, when he again had the brace on his right hand.

Toronto, meanwhile, got back standout rookie forward Scottie Barnes, who missed the prior two games with the sprained left ankle he suffered in the fourth quarter of Game 1.

Barnes, who was honored with the Rookie of the Year Award before the game Saturday, had been listed as doubtful.

Barnes took the court for a short workout for a few minutes before heading into the locker room. Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game that Barnes, who had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in Game 1 before getting hurt, would likely get as much time on the court as he could handle if he's cleared to play.

Barnes played 26 minutes off the bench and had 6 points, 11 rebounds and 2 assists as the Raptors forced a Game 5 back in Philadelphia on Monday.