Sixers

Harris 'not great' after entering health and safety protocols, Rivers says

Sixers

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers provided an update ahead of Wednesday's game against the Bulls on Tobias Harris, who entered the NBA's health and safety protocols Monday. 

Rivers essentially confirmed Harris tested positive for COVID-19, as The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported earlier Wednesday.

“He’s doing OK but not great, honestly,” Rivers said. “It’s the most I’m going to say about it. It hit him, for sure. A lot of guys have had this and they are mad, like, ‘What the hell? I’m fine.’ Tobias is not in that category right now, I can tell you that.”

NBA protocols stipulate that players can return either after waiting a minimum of 10 days or having two consecutive negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart. 

Harris is among the Sixers’ main leaders, a mentor to young players and well-liked locker presence. His absence as a person is significant for the team. And clearly, playing without someone who was averaging close to 20 points and 10 rebounds is also impactful. 

“Tobias is a run stopper,” Rivers said. “When teams are making a run and (Joel Embiid’s) off the floor, you go to Tobias and he scores for you. We don’t have that. We don’t have the size and the rebounding and the power. So the way we’ve played so far this year … we’ve played with great pace and also with great power. You take Tobias off the floor, well, we’re going to play with great pace. 

 

“We still have Joel, but the power comes from when you have two. But we won’t change much as far as the same quick decisions, straight line, downhill, ball movement basketball offensively. And we have to be even better now defensively, because we don’t have the margin of error that we have when we have all our players.”

Danny Green (left hamstring tightness) is out as well. It didn’t sound like Rivers expects him to return soon.

“I don’t know the timeline,” he said. “My guess is at least a couple of games — at least. So obviously without Danny or Tobias, it is what it is. We’ll have to figure it out.”

The Sixers have a difficult upcoming stretch over the next week that includes two games against Chicago and matchups with the Knicks and Bucks. On a positive note, Shake Milton no longer has a strict minutes limit, according to Rivers, though the head coach joked that the fourth-year guard has a “lungs restriction” as he regains his conditioning after a preseason right ankle sprain.

As for Ben Simmons, Rivers did not have much to say. He reiterated that he has “no idea” when Simmons’ situation might resolve. The three-time All-Star has been out due to personal reasons after telling the team he’s not mentally ready to play.

“I don’t think about it,” Rivers said. “I honestly don’t. I coach the guys that are on the floor every day. That’s what I’ve focused on, and we’ve done pretty well with that.”