76ers

Sixers injury update: Elton Brand 'very optimistic' about Ben Simmons

Sixers injury update: Elton Brand 'very optimistic' about Ben Simmons

On March 11, the NBA season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. That also happened to be the last time before Tuesday that the Sixers had given an official comment on Ben Simmons’ injury status. At the time, the Sixers said Simmons would be re-evaluated for the nerve impingement in his lower back in approximately three weeks. 

In a conference call Tuesday, general manger Elton Brand said Simmons, who missed the Sixers’ final eight games before the league went on hiatus, is “doing really, really well.”

I give Ben and our medical staff a ton of credit for their hard work throughout his recovery,” he said. “I give Ben so much credit for him working so hard throughout this unknown time. Fortunately, we’ve able to arrange for him to continue to get the treatment and rehab he needs during this hiatus. I’m very optimistic he’ll be able to play if and when we’re given that green light to resume.

The Sixers are 6-5 this season without Simmons, the league leader in steals and a strong candidate for an NBA All-Defensive Team. Though NBA practice facilities have been closed, Brand noted that Simmons has been allowed to use the Sixers’ facility in Camden, New Jersey, because of his injury. 

“Ben and others have been given permission to use our facility," Brand said. "It’s essential that they have the proper equipment to workout and rehab, so he’s been doing that ever since the first week. We were able to get him access there.” 

Would Simmons be playing if the postseason was currently taking place?

Brand wasn’t prepared to give a definitive answer, though he portrayed Simmons’ progress in a positive light. ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan had reported on April 21 that Simmons would be “good to go” if the season resumes.

“It’s tough, because with him not playing 3-on-3, 5-on-5 — just to speculate there,” Brand said. “But when I FaceTime him during his workouts and his treatments and I see him, I’d be highly encouraged. His ramp-up would be different. We’ve taken our time, we’ve been methodical and thoughtful about his recovery and rehab, making sure, because we weren’t in a rush. It’s hard to speculate. He’s been working hard and I know he’d be close or ready.” 

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Sixers Talk podcast: Ready or not, here come the Celtics

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Sixers Talk podcast: Ready or not, here come the Celtics

On this edition of the Sixers Talk podcast, we discuss our concern over Joel Embiid's health, the OKC pick conveying, the first-round matchup vs. the Celtics and much more.

(0:52) — Short night (and negative X-rays) for Joel Embiid.
(9:00) — Thanks to Mike Muscala, the Sixers have a first-round pick.
(13:37) — What will Brett Brown do with the rotation?
(27:26) — Pressure on Brown coaching against Brad Stevens, Celtics.
(39:47) — Confidence in pairing of Shake Milton and Josh Richardson?

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Bench celebrations were a highlight in fourth quarter of Sixers' game vs. Raptors

Bench celebrations were a highlight in fourth quarter of Sixers' game vs. Raptors

The starting lineups of two Eastern Conference playoff teams aren’t usually on the benches in the fourth quarter of a close game.

They were Wednesday night, though, as neither the Sixers nor the Raptors had anything to play for in a game that Toronto won, 125-121. That situation resulted in some exuberant celebrations and a mini-competition of which bench could bring the most energy. There was plenty of enthusiasm on both sides. (The photos below are from USA Today Images.)

Joel Embiid and Al Horford enjoyed Mike Scott’s shooting. 

A late Matisse Thybulle jumper was a big hit, too. 

And there were big smiles and incredulous reactions when rookie Marial Shayok blocked a shot and then chose a layup over a dunk on the ensuing fast break. 

“I don’t minimize that sort of vibe, that action, at all,” Brett Brown said. “There is a true spirit amongst our group. There is a sort of inherent, accumulated, relational side that we’ve all expedited because we’re in the bubble in buses and restaurants and gyms and dormitories together. … I think the guys on the bench, whether it’s bench players or our starters, showing that type of support, that type of attitude, how can that not be a good thing?”

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