Six Sixers were listed as probable on the initial injury report for the team’s Thursday night matchup against the Heat, a significant upgrade from recent games.
Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, Tobias Harris and Terrance Ferguson were all designated as probable after missing Tuesday’s game due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. Joel Embiid (back tightness) and Ben Simmons (left knee swelling) were also listed as probable, as was the case leading into the opener of the Sixers' mini-series against Miami. Embiid played 39 minutes and lifted the Sixers to an overtime win over the Heat on Tuesday with 45 points and 16 rebounds. Simmons fouled out in the fourth period and had a subpar night with five points, 12 assists and six turnovers.
The NBA announced Wednesday that Wizards-Pistons and Suns-Warriors games scheduled for Friday have been postponed, since ongoing contact tracing with Washington and Phoenix will prevent the teams from having the minimum of eight available players. Since Jan. 6, 16 new players have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the league.
The Nets’ trade for James Harden understandably captured many fans’ attention Wednesday, but the NBA is still in a difficult situation with COVID-19, with many teams missing key players or unable to play at all. The league announced additional health and safety protocols Tuesday.
Eight Heat players were still listed as out for health and safety reasons on Wednesday night’s report, among them Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. Meyers Leonard was listed as doubtful with a left shoulder sprain and Gabe Vincent was probable with right knee soreness. If Leonard sits and Vincent is available, the Heat would again be at the eight-player minimum.
Miami still nearly managed to beat the Sixers on Tuesday as Vincent, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson combined for 84 points. Rookie big man Precious Achiuwa had 17 points and 13 rebounds in his first start, a daunting assignment against Embiid.