That noise you hear is the Sixers' fan base breathing a sigh of relief.
Jimmy Butler, who saw a specialist in Los Angeles for his sprained right wrist, is out Saturday night vs. the Nuggets, but is expected to play Tuesday against the Lakers. The news was first reported by Yahoo! Sports Chris Haynes.
With the recent injury history the Sixers have dealt with, it was understandable that fans were anxious over the news that Butler would be seeing a specialist. There was even more concern considering it’s the same wrist Butler had an “elective procedure” on this summer.
Brett Brown mentioned that he thought Butler would be available Wednesday against the Spurs, which makes it seem like the team was just being overly cautious. Brown reiterated that before the team left for its four-game West Coast swing.
“We’re just getting further peace of mind and confirmation that things are OK,” Brown said Friday. “Jimmy and the organization decided to go to California. We’ll meet him in Denver. It’s really far more precautionary than it is stuff that people are overly worried about.”
Saturday will mark the third straight game Butler will miss.
Unfortunately for the Sixers, Butler isn’t the only one out in Denver. Joel Embiid (rest) and Wilson Chandler (left hamstring tightness) will both miss the game against the Nuggets.
That’s three-fifths of the Sixers’ starters out in Denver. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the reality of the league. It’s a little surprising it took the Sixers this long to give Embiid his rest day considering the All-Star center has been hauling quite a load and playing 33.5 minutes a night. He’s also been dealing with back tightness.
It’s disappointing that we won’t get to see Embiid match up against Nikola Jokic. Jokic is having a great season and could be seen as Embiid's main competition for the center spot on the All-NBA First Team. Embiid always seems to relish these matchups, as he did playing against James Harden Monday.
“I love playing against guys that you guys might say are better than me, just to prove to you guys that they’re not, but it’s fun to me.”
Getting to actually go 1-on-1 against a player like Jokic surely would’ve lit a fire under Embiid. Chandler, who’s battled health issues all season, likely would’ve enjoyed the opportunity to play against the team that basically gave him away this offseason.
But ultimately the health of Embiid, Butler and Chandler is more important than winning a game in Denver in January. The Sixers are just a game behind the Pacers — who lost All-Star Victor Oladipo for the season Wednesday — for the three seed and are only four games behind the league-best Bucks.
The Sixers’ goals are still right in front of them. Making sure the team is at optimum health in April outweighs everything.
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