Updated: Feb. 22, 12:27 p.m.
CAMDEN, N.J. — After missing his first game since November on Thursday night with lower back tightness, Ben Simmons will play in the Sixers’ matchup Saturday against the NBA-best Bucks, a team source tells NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Simmons went through an individualized workout Thursday and was listed as probable, according to a team spokesperson.
Raul Neto started in Simmons’ place for the team’s 112-104 overtime win over the Nets and had six points and four assists in 28 minutes.
Simmons’ absence had a substantial impact on the Sixers’ rotation, with head coach Brett Brown looking to find effective ball handlers. He ended up closing the game with Shake Milton, Josh Richardson and Alec Burks as his guards. Burks scored 19 of the team’s 34 bench points and impressed Brown.
“It wasn’t an easy game to sub,” Brown said Thursday night. “You ended up going to multiple point guards. Ben’s out, so you try J-Rich. At the start, J struggled a little bit. Raul obviously started, but J-Rich was the backup. Then we came in with Shake. We’re searching a little bit at that position. And Ben’s absence put us in that environment. I think in general, the flow of the game was a little bit erratic at the start, and Alec certainly came in and did what we scouted him to do.”
Since missing the 2016-17 season because of a foot injury, Simmons has played in 213 of a possible 220 regular-season games and all 22 of the Sixers' playoff games.
He first reported discomfort in his lower back at practice Wednesday and still experienced some discomfort Thursday morning, a team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Simmons played 29 minutes in Sunday’s All-Star Game, recording 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in Team LeBron’s win over Team Giannis. The 23-year-old leads the NBA in steals and played at a very high level leading into the All-Star break, averaging 20.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists in his last 18 games.
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