DENVER — Good morning, people. If the 76ers are anything like me, they’re ready to head home. Life on the road is cool, but it can become tiresome. And this four-game trip stretched over eight days has had several additional storylines.
Joel Embiid was suspended for the first two games for fighting Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns on Oct. 30. He returned Monday against the Utah Jazz. But that’s the same game that Ben Simmons was unable to finish because of a sprained right shoulder. That injury will sideline the All-Star point guard for tonight’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets (5-2) at the Pepsi Center.
The undermanned Sixers (5-2) will look tonight to snap their two-game skid and avoid going 1-3 on the trip.
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Stay ready. That’s the only thing Trey Burke can do.
The 26-year-old signed a one-year, partially guaranteed deal with the Sixers on July 30 to a lot of fanfare. The thought was that Burke would be a go-to scorer off the bench. But he hasn’t played a single second through seven games.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I have to go with faith, my faith in God. That’s the only thing that keeps me sane when you are not able to perform and do what you are able to do. You want to be out there to help your team.
“You can do one or the other, really: Complain or pout, or go the extra mile. That’s kind of what I have been doing.”
The reserve point guard has been in this situation before. So for him, staying ready and going the extra mile are the best ways to approach each game.
Burke works hard at practice and prepares for each game as if he’s going to see some action.
One would think he would be a solid go-to option off the bench. But coach Brett Brown feels more comfortable giving minutes to Raul Neto, a more traditional, game-managing reserve point guard. Burke is a score-first type of point guard. Plus, the coach is also invested in playing shooting guard Josh Richardson at the point when Simmons is out.
So there hasn’t been any room in the rotation for a guy averaging 10.9 points in 361 career games. Things could change tonight with Simmons unable to play.
The last time Burke was in this situation was in 2018 with the New York Knicks, when he was called up from their NBA G-League affiliate. The Columbus, Ohio native, who was picked ninth by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2013 draft, did everything he needed to do, coming early and staying late. After a while, things started to turn around for him in New York, where he became a lethal scorer.
“I know I’ll be able to help this team,” Burke said of the Sixers.
He knows opportunities come and go. That’s why he’s making sure he’ll be prepared when his time comes.
“I’m looking at everything as a good right now,” Burke said. “I’m not thinking negative about nothing.”
- Joel Embiid can grow up and reboot his Sixers image after his suspension. Will he? Marcus Hayes asks that question. He wants know if Embiid can stop the feuds, the fights, and late-night tweets.
- Sixers podcast: I discuss Ben Simmons’ Grade 1 sprain in his right shoulder during Wednesday’s 106-104 loss to the Utah Jazz and what it could mean for the Sixers, among other topics.
- Bill Melchionni is back in Philly, this time for his Hall of Fame induction. The three-time ABA All-Star was one of 15 individuals inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, Frank Fitzpatrick writes.
- Embiid’s presence elevates the Sixers’ perimeter defense. I write that opposing guards have racked up a lot of points in the three games Embiid has missed.
- Simmons will miss at least one game with the shoulder sprain. One media outlet reported that Simmons will likely miss the next three games. But the news could have been worse.
That folks are making a big deal out of Clippers standout Kawhi Leonard’s missing games for rest, a.k.a. “load management,” is a joke. Seriously.
Where were those people a season ago when he did the same thing with the Toronto Raptors? Maybe they didn’t care, because that was a problem only for Canada’s television market and Toronto fans.
But now it’s a problem because Leonard has his new squad, the Clippers, as a must-see team on national telecasts and folks are flocking to Clippers games here in the States. Yet, Leonard and the Clippers never hid what they were going to do.
The goal has always been to deliver a healthy Leonard, who’s dealing with an ongoing left-knee issue, to the postseason. The Raptors did that en route to winning last season’s NBA title.
Believe me, I get it. People are spending a lot of money on tickets to watch him and the Clippers. But we all knew that Leonard wasn’t going to play in both games of back-to-backs.
Now, you can’t overlook the fact that the organization was fined $50,000 for giving inconsistent statements about his health.
However, his missing games should surprise no one.
Tonight: Sixers at Denver Nuggets, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Sunday: Charlotte Hornets at Sixers, 6 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Tuesday: Cleveland Cavaliers at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBA TV
Wednesday: Sixers at Orlando Magic, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Nov. 15: Sixers at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Question: Why are so many fans hung up on the one trait Simmons doesn’t have (shooting), would these same people be hung up on [Magic Johnson’s] lack of defense? [Shaquille O’Neal’s] poor foul shooting? [Bill] Russell’s poor foul shooting? [Larry] Bird’s shaky defense? You don’t hunt for specs in a diamond. — @AlbertCHall on Twitter
Answer: Hello, @AlbertCHall. Thanks for the question. A lot of the frustration that people have with Simmons’ shooting mid-range/perimeter jumpers is that he doesn’t shoot them at all. I think the fans would be a little understanding if he at least tried.
They see videos of him knocking down threes in summer workouts and during drills at practice. However, he doesn’t do it when opponents sag off him in games.
So I think a lot of it is simply just frustration that he won’t even attempt them during games.