CAMDEN, N.J. — For those hoping that the restrictions on Joel Embiid may be coming to an end, the Sixers have bad news.
Embiid will not play Tuesday night in Utah for what the team is calling "load management." Embiid, who's averaging 20.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in 27.6 minutes a game this season, will play Thursday night in Sacramento.
The decision may seem odd seeing as the Sixers haven't played a game since last Friday's win over the Pacers. Unfortunately, head coach Brett Brown didn't really have answers, deferring to the medical staff.
"I really just follow, like I always tell you, the instruction of our medical people," Brown said Monday, "and there is completely a thought-out plan of why this plan has been recommended. I think if it requires more information, they will be the ones to explain why they decided to make this recommendation."
The Sixers are equipped to handle their star big man's absence. Richaun Holmes is now healthy and they have the services of free-agent signee Amir Johnson. Brown also mentioned Jahlil Okafor's name when asked about his plan to replace Embiid's minutes.
The team will also be without guard Jerryd Bayless, who suffered an injury to his left wrist fighting through a screen against Indiana. X-rays were negative, but it's the same wrist Bayless eventually had season-ending surgery on last season.
"It's a tough break," Brown said. "But it's one of those things that [Timothe] Luwawu[-Cabarrot] and [Nik] Stauskas and Justin Anderson — that's why you have a team. These guys are in shape, their attitudes have been great, their fitness level is great. Even though they haven't played, the system caters for all that. "
Bayless started the season as a starter before moving to the bench in favor of Dario Saric the last two games. The move seemed more to get Saric going than it was a slight on Bayless. The veteran guard, who signed a three-year deal last offseason, added another legitimate three-point shooting threat to the lineup, shooting 42 percent through nine games this season.
While it's simply a night off for Embiid, it may be something more serious for Bayless.
"It's all about opportunity for the next guy," point guard T.J. McConnell said. "It's unfortunate what's happened to Jerryd. It's bad luck. We're all praying for him. Like I said, we just have to move on and next guy up."
Bayless underwent MRI and CT scans, but his status beyond the game against the Jazz is unknown.
The Sixers' five-game road trip starts tomorrow in Utah, followed by a game in Sacramento Thursday before stops against the Warriors, Clippers and Lakers.
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons presents a matchup nightmare.
Defend him with a big and he'll blow by him. Try a point guard and he'll post him up. Even wings have struggled to keep up with the strength of the 6-foot-10 point guard.
Simmons has seen all these looks and has found a way to beat them all.
"I just test them," Simmons said. "See how they play me. See what they give me on the court. But every game is a new challenge. I'm learning each one but I think every game I'm getting better."
So far, opposing teams just don't have an answer for Simmons.
"We're just seeing a smorgasbord of everybody's belief on how they should defend Ben Simmons," Brown said. "It has not been a cookie cutter process yet. And because the league so well coaches and because the league is so well scouted, in time you're going to see a constant — mostly — way Ben is defended."
Simmonds leads all rookies in points, assists, rebounds, steals and minutes per game.
Markelle Fultz was practicing on a side court, mostly just dribbling and doing light drills.
But when he did shoot, he did so ... left-handed?
Before you freak out, it appeared to just be a way for Fultz to get some work in while not using his injured right shoulder. Brown didn't even realize he was doing it.
"No," Brown said. "I haven't even seen it but I can tell you that there's nothing to read into it."
Fultz has missed the last five games with right shoulder soreness and scapular muscle imbalance. He is out indefinitely.