76ers

It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

Updated: Tuesday, 5:09 p.m.

We now have a diagnosis on Ben Simmons' injury. Simmons suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, a team source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia (see story). Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news.

Speaking before the Sixers' win Monday night over the Hawks, head coach Brett Brown was unsure how long the injury would sideline Simmons. The 23-year-old sustained the injury at practice Wednesday going up for a rebound, according to Brown, and irritated it in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game against the Bucks.

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “And it really is like how long is a piece of string — who knows? Who knows? … Whatever the time equals on days, games, period of time, we can talk more honestly as this thing shakes out.”

However, it sounded as if Brown was preparing for his two-time All-Star point guard to be out for a while. He framed the situation as one the Sixers can cope with if other players take advantage of the chance to play expanded roles.

There’s 25 games left. … It’s an eternity,” he said. “Just keep going back to the end game. What’s the bottom line? I’ll say it again — if you get their health and their spirit, it’s got a chance to equal form. … And it’s all about landing the plane. And so with 25 games left, we’ve taken a hit with Ben. 

"I do see it this way. I’m not spinning it. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and something will emerge. And we need something to emerge. It’s not like we were all saying, ‘Oh, here it is, it’s anointed.’ It wasn’t that. So, I think we’re going to learn something and find something. If this was six games out, I wouldn’t be telling you this story. When it’s 25 games out, it is, with all my heart, what I think. That’s what I said to the team, that’s what I really think and that’s what I’m going to try to pull off.

Who specifically will take over ball handling duties? Brown said it “will be done by committee” for the time being, and he named a few players who he expects to be in that mix. Monday night, the team started Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. 

“The candidates could be Raul Neto or [Furkan Korkmaz] or Alec Burks or J-Rich, Shake," he said. "So, you have capable people that aren’t traditional point guards but have the ability to get the ball up the floor. Then at that point, you’re probably going to have to be in something that has motion and continuity instead of just giving Chris Paul the ball and saying, ‘Go to work’ out of a pick-and-roll, as an example.”

Regardless of Brown’s attitude, the tangible impact of not having Simmons will clearly be significant. He leads the league in steals, has assisted on the most three-pointers and is a highly athletic, versatile and talented player.

The loss of all those attributes will no doubt be difficult to overcome.

“When there is a vacuum, as there is right now with Ben, something will happen,” Brown said. “Somebody will step up. I’m trying to see the world through those eyes, and I really do — it’s not even creative coach speak. I see it as an opportunity, and I think I need to see it that way.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on Sixers

Matisse Thybulle is a much better defender in real life than in NBA2K

twitch_matisse_thybulle_mikal_bridges.jpg

Matisse Thybulle is a much better defender in real life than in NBA2K

Matisse Thybulle is known for his defense in real life. In NBA2K, that is definitely not the case.

With the NBA season suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak, Thybulle and the Suns’ Mikal Bridges played each other in 2K on Friday night and streamed the action on Twitch.

Though Thybulle gave Bridges a little bit of a scare with a big third quarter, the virtual Suns beat the virtual Sixers, 75-64. 

While the intensity obviously didn’t compare to a typical game night at Wells Fargo Center, both Thybulle and Bridges — a Villanova product and a Sixer for about 20 minutes before a draft-night trade two years ago — were very into it.

Thyulle decided to sub himself into the game after just 28 seconds, and Bridges did the same 30 seconds later. 

“Which one’s shoot again?,” he asked. “Square?” 

As his team fell behind, Thybulle had some stern words for his players.

“Al, you’re better than that,” he said when Al Horford bit on a pump fake. “You’ve been in the league too long to be making those mistakes.” 

When Ben Simmons had a floater blocked, Thybulle wasn’t thrilled. 

“Ben, you’re 7-foot,” he said. “Just dunk it.” 

And a Mike Scott lay-up early in the third wasn’t what Thybulle was hoping to see. 

At one point, he tried begging for mercy from Bridges.

“Stop running pick-and-roll, I don’t know how to guard it,” he said. “Please. Come on, man.” 

Unfortunately for Thybulle, Bridges did not stop and the rookie left with a loss, albeit an entertaining one.

“I apologize to the Sixers, to my family, my friends, the people of Philadelphia,” he said. “This is not acceptable.” 

After personally finishing with no points on 0 for 3 shooting, Thybulle promised he'll be practicing.



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Josh Richardson bests Devin Booker in Sixers' NBA2K simulation win over Suns

Josh Richardson bests Devin Booker in Sixers' NBA2K simulation win over Suns

Even in a video game, the Sixers’ dominance at home continues.

Thanks to some stifling fourth-quarter defense, the Sixers took down the Suns, 76-62, in a simulation on NBA2K Friday.

Led by Josh Richardson and Al Horford, the Sixers went on a 13-4 run in the final period to seal the victory.

Here are observations from the virtual win:

J-Rich outduels Booker

Richardson was given the defensive assignment of trying to contain the high-scoring Devin Booker. Booker, who hung 40 on the Sixers in a real-life game in Phoenix back in November, got off to a hot start.

But so did Richardson.

The difference was the fourth quarter where Booker appeared to be laboring … at least that’s what the little Gatorade cup that popped up next to him would indicate.

It was Richardson’s strip on a Booker drive and lay in on the other end that sparked the Sixers’ fourth quarter run and helped put the game out of reach.

While Booker posted a game-high 27, he wasn’t very efficient, going 10 of 24 from the field. Richardson, on the other hand, had a team-high 22 points on 8 of 12 from the field and 3 of 3 from three. He also added four assists and two steals.

Embiid quiet offensively

If the Sixers deployed the offensive strategy in real life that they did in this sim, Brett Brown would have a lot of explaining to do.

The Sixers never really looked for Joel Embiid in the post until late in the game, where the All-Star center provided two big buckets. He only scored 10 points, but pulled in 15 rebounds and challenged a ton of shots at the rim.

Embiid’s speed rating must be like a 10 because he had trouble getting back on defense all night. There was also a moment where 2K color analyst Greg Anthony compared Phoenix’s DeAndre Ayton to Embiid … which certainly is a take.

Horford and Harris solid

Al Horford pounded the Suns’ bigs early, make 4 of his 5 shots from the field. He cooled off a little in the third, but buried a hook shot over former teammate Aron Baynes to extend the Sixers’ lead to seven before the period ended.

It was on the defensive end down the stretch where Horford shined in this one. He came up with a big steal and rumbled down the other end for a layup to give the Sixers’ their first double-digit lead. A couple possessions later he came up with a big block on Ayton which led to an Embiid bucket on the other end to put the Sixers up 12. Horford finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

Harris scuffled early and wasn’t really aggressive and looking to score. In the second half, he started cutting to the basket and looking for shots around the rim. He ended up with 16 points on 6 of 11. He also came up with two on-ball blocks after being switched onto Booker.


Sorry, Dario

Former Sixer and fan favorite Dario Saric had a tough night dealing with his former mates. Going up against the likes of Embiid and Horford, Saric scored just two points in 17 minutes.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers