Paul Hudrick

Joel Embiid leaves game vs. Trail Blazers with injury

Joel Embiid leaves game vs. Trail Blazers with injury

The Sixers already have a tall task in front of them trying to play without All-Star Ben Simmons. Now, their other All-Star is banged up.

Joel Embiid left the Sixers’ game against the Trail Blazers Sunday in the first quarter with a left ankle injury and won't return, per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters. 

Embiid was contesting a shot from Portland’s Wenyen Gabriel at the rim when his foot landed awkwardly on the stanchion below the basket. Embiid stayed in the game but then went to the bench at the next timeout. After appearing to try to work the injury out on the sideline, he then headed back to the locker room.

Simmons will undergo surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Noah Levick

We’ll have more details on Embiid's injury as they become available.

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Alec Burks gives Sixers much-needed scoring punch in win over Magic

Alec Burks gives Sixers much-needed scoring punch in win over Magic

It hasn't always been pretty, but the Sixers have now won three out of four in Disney World.

They beat the Magic, 108-101, at HP Field House Friday night. Orlando is a strong defensive team that has trouble scoring but doesn't turn the ball over. After slugging it out for most of the game, the Sixers used their size advantage to put the clamps on the Magic in the fourth quarter to come away with the victory. The Sixers had four players finish with 20 or more points.

Ben Simmons (left patella subluxation) and Glenn Robinson III (left hip pointer) were out for the Sixers. Aaron Gordon (left hamstring strain) and Michael Carter-Williams (tendon strain in left foot) were also out for Magic. Jonathan Isaac (torn ACL) is out for the rest of the season.

The win improves the Sixers to 42-27. They take on the Trail Blazers Sunday night.

Here are observations from the win:

All-Star big vs. All-Star big

Joel Embiid always seems to struggle against former Sixer Nikola Vucevic, an All-Star last season. Vucevic is built solidly, positions himself well and doesn’t foul. That seems to be the best combination in defending Embiid.

Embiid came into the night averaging 32.7 points and shooting 58.3 percent from field in his first three games in the bubble. He’d also been averaging 11 free throws a game. He had just six points on 3 of 8 and settled for too many jumpers in the first half. He attempted just one free throw before halftime. 

In the third quarter, Embiid came out with a much more aggressive mentality. He was working harder to get post position against Vucevic and making his touches count. He took eight free throws, making six, and had 12 points in the period. He finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

Size advantage

Harris has been the Sixers’ second-best scorer, averaging 24 points a game and shooting 38.9 percent from three so far in the bubble. He also struggled mightily from the field early in this one. To his credit, Harris hit the offensive glass aggressively for a couple easy baskets and took advantage of the Magic missing so much of their size. It is worth mentioning that Harris came up limping after a put-back dunk in the first quarter. Harris, who was leading the NBA minutes played before the restart, still played 40 minutes.

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that once Embiid and Harris got going, the Sixers started taking control of the game. Harris finished with 23 points and tied a season-high with 15 rebounds.

The Sixers went to Al Horford early in the post. Horford, getting the start in Simmons’ place, had a huge size advantage with the 6-foot-6 Gary Clark playing the four. The veteran got off to a strong start, looking spry on both ends of the floor. It was one of the better games for the Embiid-Horford pairing this season. Horford had 21 points and nine rebounds.

On point

Both of the Sixers’ point guards played well, but it was Alec Burks, who posted a team-high 13 first-half points, that stole the show. Burks showed exactly why GM Elton Brand made the move to acquire him. Burks is a three-level scorer with the ability to create his own shot, a skill set no other Sixer has — at least not at the level of Burks. He helped bust up the Magic’s attempt at a zone by knocking down a couple of threes in the first half and has shot the ball very well in Disney World.

Burks will likely be in line for more minutes with Simmons out. Even if Simmons is able to return, Burks’ ability to score should put him in line for a bigger role. He had 22 points, his highest point total as a Sixer, and hit 3 of 7 from three.

Shake Milton was solid, playing arguably his best defense in the first four games of the restart against the crafty veteran D.J. Augustin — though Augustin did get it going in the second half. He also did well getting the team into the offense. He finished with a career-high eight assists and had just one turnover.

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Ben Simmons forced to leave game vs. Wizards with injury

Ben Simmons forced to leave game vs. Wizards with injury

The Sixers haven’t gotten off a great start in Disney World and an injury to one of their All-Stars won’t help matters.

Ben Simmons left Wednesday’s game against the Wizards with a left knee injury and did not return, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters. Simmons appeared to favor the leg on an entry pass to Al Horford late in the third quarter.

Simmons could be seen walking gingerly to the locker room for further examination. A few moments later, we saw GM Elton Brand walk into the locker room.

There is some positive news, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The 24-year-old has had a tough start in the NBA’s official return but is integral to the Sixers’ possible playoff success. Simmons is one of the most dangerous players in the NBA in transition and is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

We’ll have more updates on Simmons’ injury as they’re provided.

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