KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Happy Friday, folks.
I hope your start of the weekend is going much better than that of the 76ers, who are without All-Star Ben Simmons, who is sidelined indefinitely with a temporary partial dislocation of his left kneecap. His absence makes it harder for the Sixers to get everyone in rhythm entering the postseason.
While the Sixers (41-27) aren’t giving a timeline, this type of injury typically sidelines a player up to two weeks depending on his pain tolerance. The first round of the NBA playoffs will begin in 10 days, on Aug. 17.
Coach Brett Brown believes Simmons will return at some point of the NBA restart at Walt Disney World.
Make sure you read Inquirer.com to keep up with the latest news on Simmons and the Sixers.
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Joel Embiid’s workload is about to expand.
The Sixers want and need him to do more while Simmons is out. As a result, Embiid could become the most dominant player of the NBA restart, if he already hasn’t been.
He benefited from mismatches in the first three seeding games against the undermanned Indiana Pacers (Saturday), the San Antonio Spurs (Monday) and Washington Wizards (Wednesday). The competition will surely be tougher tonight against the Orlando Magic and Nic Vucevic.
But there’s no denying that Embiid has been dominant in Florida. The three-time All-Star is averaging 32.6 points, 13.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.6 blocks.
“As it relates to defense, I think it is going to be even more required,” Brown said before Thursday’s practice. “We need him to go to even an higher level defensively.
“Offensively, he needs to get as many touches as we can get him.”
Embiid is averaging 20 field-goal attempts, and 11 foul shots. Embiid has also shown improvement passing out of double teams.
“Maybe [tonight] Vucevic is going to play more single coverage; maybe they are going to double-team him,” Brown said. “I think we are equipped to handle whatever environment it is.”
But he still wants Embiid to be more involved on both ends of the floor. Embiid has averaged 22.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in nine career games against the Magic (32-37).
Now, this is how you get out of a slump.
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard had made just 10 of 30 three-point shots in the NBA bubble entering Thursday’s contest against the Denver Nuggets. But the five-time All-Star showed why he is a first-team All-NBA candidate, draining 11 threes in a 125-115 victory over Denver.
Lillard’s 11 threes came on 18 attempts. He shot 13-for-21 overall to finish with 45 points in addition to 12 assists and three steals.
He became the second player with multiple games of at least 10 three-pointers this season. James Harden of the Houston Rockets is the other.
Today: Orlando Magic vs. Sixers at HP Fieldhouse, 6:30 p.m., TNT, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Sunday: Sixers vs. Portland Trail Blazers at VISA Athletic Center, 6:30 p.m., NBA TV, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Tuesday: Phoenix Suns vs. Sixers at VISA Athletic Center, 4:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Wednesday: Toronto Raptors vs. Sixers at HP Field House 6:30 p.m., ESPN, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Aug. 14: Sixers vs. Houston Rockets at TBD, Time TBD, NBC Sports Philadelphia
All events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Send questions by email or on Twitter (@PompeyOnSixers)
Question: With the Sixers’ new starting lineup, Ben [Simmons] being at the four, has Ben stepped up to meet the challenge? If Ben continues to not shoot, is it time for the Sixers to trade him? — @Mal3230jr on Twitter
Answer: What’s up, Malachi? I hope you are doing well. Great questions. Right now, you know that Simmons is out with a subluxation of the left kneecap. But as to your first question, I think he stepped up to the challenge in the scrimmages with the ball in his hands. I think he struggled to find the groove in the seeding games, especially the last two. He’s at his best as a point forward, not a traditional power forward.
As to your second question, I don’t think it’s time to trade him or Embiid. The Sixers just have to make it work and continue to find pieces to fit around them.