76ers

Sixers' Brett Brown wants to see 'appropriate fear' for COVID-19

Sixers' Brett Brown wants to see 'appropriate fear' for COVID-19

The Sixers had no players test positive for the coronavirus during the NBA’s Phase 2 protocol, Brett Brown said Wednesday in a video call with reporters.

Brown also said none of the Sixers’ active and healthy players have opted against traveling to Orlando for the planned resumption of the 2019-20 season. Zhaire Smith has a bone bruise in his left knee and is out for the remainder of the season, meaning the Sixers should have as many as 16 players available.

“We’re figuring out with this restriction we have as far as staffing and players, who ultimately is going to end up going to Orlando,” Brown said. “We’re pretty close to knowing 100 percent. ... Nobody has tested positive, and certainly nobody has put their hand up to feel like they don’t want to go.”

The NBA and NBPA announced Friday that there were 16 positive tests out of the 302 players in the initial stage of mandatory testing. The Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan, the Kings’ Jabari Parker and Alex Len and the Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon are among the players who have publicly acknowledged testing positive for COVID-19. 

Mandatory individual workouts began Wednesday. The Sixers are scheduled to arrive in Orlando on July 9, and their first of eight seeding games is set for Aug. 1 against the Indiana Pacers.

Brown was asked about the health and safety challenges the NBA faces as it attempts to conclude the season despite a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, and specifically about his own perspective as a 59-year-old man. The CDC has said that the risk of severe illnesses from the coronavirus increases with age. Approximately eight out of 10 documented coronavirus-related deaths in the United States have been among those 65 and older.

Instead of focusing on himself, Brown took that as an opportunity to give his opinion on the responsibility to adhere to certain regulations and best practices during the coronavirus pandemic, including wearing masks in public. In order to reduce the risk of transmission, the CDC has recommended that everyone over two years old wears a face mask in public

All of us will judge, do people wear a mask or not? Let’s just go there,” he said. “I think it’s a statement, when you’re in public and you’re trying to be responsible — there’s a responsibility that we all have. Is it arrogant or rude (to not wear a mask)? I think a little bit. And so, all of us, we make a statement — what do we think? The world as I see it is still a little bit too bulletproof for all of us. My brother-in-law has been with the World Health Organization and Red Cross and Doctors without Borders for three decades. He’s positioned in Madrid, Spain. He’s responsible for Southeast Asia. And so you’re really curious about, ‘Hey, how do you see the world?’ 

“We all kind of lean on (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director) Dr. (Anthony) Fauci and we’ve all got our sources, and what do we think? … Of course, we’re all going to Orlando with a responsibility. We have to. We have some level of — going back to my phrase with basketball — appropriate fear. … It’s on all of us to do, let’s just call it the right thing, the smart thing, in order to create what the safest environment is. Will people do that to the level that I’m saying? Probably not.

In discussing players who might be tempted to leave Disney World and seek a respite from that isolated environment, Brown was hopeful that caution about the larger risks and potential consequences would be the overriding priority. 

“I hope that there is a true recognition of the severity of doing that,” he said. “There needs to be a selfless approach to all of this, which really kind of epitomizes team sacrifice, doesn’t it?”

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons to undergo surgery for loose body in left knee

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons to undergo surgery for loose body in left knee

Ben Simmons will undergo surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee, a source confirmed Saturday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news. 

He'd been diagnosed with a left patella subluxation, an injury he sustained in the Sixers' win over the Wizards on Wednesday. A source told NBC Sports Philadelphia the loose body resulted from the subluxation, and that surgery was decided as the best option after consultation with the Sixers' medical staff and several specialists. Simmons will leave the NBA's campus at Disney World and further updates will be provided after the procedure. 

This news clearly makes things much more difficult for the Sixers, who are sixth in the Eastern Conference with four seeding games remaining. Simmons made his second All-Star team this year and has immense value as an ultra-versatile defender, passer and transition playmaker. 

Without him Friday night, Al Horford started and had 21 points and nine rebounds in a win over the Magic. Guard Alec Burks also had a strong game with 22 points. They're two of the players who will be asked to elevate their games in Simmons' absence, while an even heavier burden will fall on Joel Embiid. 

We reviewed several of the big questions posed by the 24-year-old's injury here while he was evaluating his treatment options. 

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2020 NBA awards: Ben Simmons isn't a Defensive Player of the Year finalist

2020 NBA awards: Ben Simmons isn't a Defensive Player of the Year finalist

Ben Simmons, the NBA’s leader in steals this season, is not a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. The three finalists announced Saturday are Rudy Gobert, the winner of that award the last two seasons, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis. 

A panel of sportswriters and broadcasters voted on the NBA’s awards, which were based on games through March 11. Winners will be announced during the playoffs. 

Here’s a look at the finalists for the other awards: 

Rookie of the Year 
Ja Morant
Zion Williamson 
Kendrick Nunn

MVP 
Giannis Antetokounmpo 
LeBron James 
James Harden 

Most Improved Player 
Luka Doncic 
Bam Adebayo 
Brandon Ingram 

Sixth Man of the Year 
Dennis Schroder
Lou Williams 
Montrezl Harrell

Coach of the Year 
Nick Nurse
Mike Budenholzer 
Billy Donovan 

As for Simmons, the 24-year-old, who is currently sidelined by a left patella subluxation, put together a compelling case. Among his more impressive statistics through March 11: First in steals; third in deflections per game; first in defensive loose balls recovered; 42.3 defended field goal percentage. He’s guarded point guards through centers, typically defended the opposition’s top threat late in the game and acquitted himself well against stars. 

His exclusion, however, is certainly not an egregious snub given the credentials of the finalists. Antetokounmpo is the best defender on the NBA’s top-rated defense. Davis has 2.3 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, and he’s held opponents to 38.3 percent shooting on field goals he's guarded. Gobert has defended the most field goals in the league and has a 48.2 defended field goal percentage on attempts of six feet or less, second to Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez. 

Simmons, one figures, should still feature on an All-Defensive Team for the first time, and it could very well be the First Team. 

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