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Sixers Injury Update: At least 3 more weeks before Markelle Fultz is cleared

NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sixers Injury Update: At least 3 more weeks before Markelle Fultz is cleared

Updated at 7 p.m. 

CLEVELAND — It will be at least three more weeks until Markelle Fultz is cleared to play.

Fultz has been sidelined since late October because of right shoulder soreness and scapular muscle imbalance. The Sixers announced Saturday both issues are resolved.

So what are the next steps? The 2017 No. 1 pick will continue physical therapy on his right shoulder. He also will increase his strength and conditioning training as well as on-court basketball activities.

Then in approximately three weeks, the Sixers medical team and Dr. Ben Kibler will examine Fultz and “gauge his readiness.” Fultz has been rehabbing with Kibler, the Medical Director of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky at the Lexington Clinic, including a recent trip to Kentucky.

There are various stages of criteria players have to go through before they are given the green light for NBA action. This could include, as examples, 5-on-0, 3-on-3, and finally 5-on-5 full-contact practice.

The Sixers also announced Justin Anderson, who has missed the last eight games because of shin splints in his left leg, will be reevaluated in approximately two weeks. Anderson will increase basketball training and conditioning. He has been limited in what he has been able to do on the court, following a program with physical therapy and rest.

The team is eyeing the returns of these two players as the roster has been hit with injuries. T.J. McConnell will be back on the sidelines Saturday against the Cavaliers because the sprained AC joint in his left shoulder still is an issue. McConnell suffered the injury last week, missed three games, played 18 minutes against the Lakers Thursday, but will not be able to go in Cleveland.

Dario Saric is available to play. Saric was listed as questionable, but the Sixers decided he would be able to play shortly before 7 p.m. The forward is dealing with a left eye laceration and right eye corneal abrasion he suffered in practice this week.

With Joel Embiid out because of his back-to-back restriction, Brown could turn to Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson in the starting lineup if Saric cannot play.

The Sixers do have their newest member, Trevor Booker, available. The forward joined the team in Philadelphia Friday and traveled to Cleveland for his first game with the Sixers. 

Sixers swingman Justin Anderson out with shin splints

USA Today Images

Sixers swingman Justin Anderson out with shin splints

The Sixers’ line to the doctor’s office is getting longer by the day.

The team announced on Friday that Justin Anderson is out with shin splints in his left leg. He will be reevaluated in approximately three weeks.

Anderson joins guards Markelle Fultz (shoulder), Jerryd Bayless (wrist) and Nik Stauskas (ankle) on the injury report.

In 10 games this season, Anderson has averaged 5.0 points (37.5 percent shooting from the field, 34.6 percent shooting from three-point range) and 2.7 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game.

With Anderson on the shelf, expect Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to see an uptick in minutes. The French swingman has averaged 16.0 minutes a night so far this season with 6.8 points (38.4 percent from the field, 35.6 percent from three-point range) and 1.2 rebounds.

While there’s never a good time for ailments, the rash of injuries to the Sixers’ perimeter players couldn’t have come at a worse time. The team faces the best backcourt in the NBA again in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson when it opens a six-game homestand against the champion Golden State Warriors on Saturday (7:30 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia).

Sixers' late collapse sealed by Eric Gordon buzzer-beating 3

Sixers' late collapse sealed by Eric Gordon buzzer-beating 3


If the Sixers are going to take the next step in their development, it’s going to start right before the game ends. 

The team has to figure out how to close out late in the fourth quarter. The Sixers have blown leads down the stretch in the past (a fairly common result in recent years), but their 105-104 defeat to the Rockets had a different burn to it (see observations).

“I think this is the toughest one,” T.J. McConnell said. “To work as hard as we did, I certainly think we deserved that one.”

The Sixers weren’t a lottery-bound team making a statement against a contender on Wednesday. This time around, they are a revamped and playoff-hungry squad with a chance to compete any given night. 

The Sixers took a 104-96 lead off a layup by Ben Simmons with 3:05 to play. They didn’t score again the rest of the evening. 

The Rockets closed out the game on a 9-0 run and stole the win with a deflating buzzer-beating three from Eric Gordon in the corner (see video). The Rockets earned a key basket leading up to that play when Joel Embiid toppled over James Harden while blocking a shot and was whistled for goaltending (see story). Harden went on to sink a free throw to cut the Sixers’ lead to two with 30 seconds to go. 

During that final three-minute stretch, the Sixers shot 0 for 4, including an uncharacteristic pair of three-point misses on back-to-back possessions from JJ Redick. They also committed a trio of turnovers and failed to get a shot to the rim while they were up two with six seconds remaining. 

Their last misstep led to the Rockets’ winning play. Brett Brown said he didn’t have “buyer’s remorse” for not calling a timeout to regroup before then. 

“The growth that we’re going to make to be in the game, have the chance to win a game against a really good Houston team isn’t good enough,” Brown said. “Ultimately we do have to be able to walk those games down with a little bit more authority.”

The Sixers’ crowd will have to wait another week for the team to try to deliver a ‘W’ in Philadelphia. The Sixers are 0-2 at the Wells Fargo Center and do not play at home again until next Wednesday against the Hawks. 

“The reason why it stings so much is because we’re on our home court,” Justin Anderson said. “We wanted to try to get our first win here in front of our fans.”

The Sixers are not practicing on Thursday. They will take the day off to regroup before they face the Mavericks and Rockets, again, on the road. 

While the team is not going to wallow in this loss, it won't forget the final three minutes either.

“It’s time to buckle down and get stops,” McConnell said.