Philly fans are sick of hearing about Ben Simmons or that the team would be in better shape were the 6-foot-10 point guard playing. But while the Sixers might not be a title contender with Simmons, the fact is they would be better with him in the lineup.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the team’s rebounding stats, particularly on the offensive end, writes David Murphy. Still not convinced?

From 2018-21, the Sixers ranked no worse than 10th in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage and no worse than 11th in defensive rebounding percentage. Last year, they rebounded 23.2% of their own missed shots, and 78.2% of their opponents’. This year, those rates are 18.4% and 76.0%, which rank 30th and 24th out of 30 NBA teams.

More simply, when you look at the difference between second-chance points for and allowed from this season to last, the Sixers are 6.1 net points per 100 possessions worse off than last year.

“Simmons is forcing the Sixers to find a trade for a player who will improve their current lineup. But few players would improve it more than Simmons himself,” Murphy writes.

Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

If fences could be mended, would you be open to Ben Simmons playing for the 76ers again?: sports.daily@inquirer.com

Don’t forget to participate in the debut of Who Said It?: The game where we provide a quote and you tell us who said it. Scroll to the end of the newsletter to see it.

Early Birds

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni has tested positive for COVID-19, and it’s unclear whether he’ll be available to coach on Sunday against the Giants.

But credit Sirianni for having the Eagles in the position to possibly make the playoffs. They’re 7-7 and have improved late in the season, with Jalen Hurts coming through with a fine performance Tuesday in a win against Washington. The Eagles, of course, still have a lot of question marks on defense.

Darius Slay is not one of them. He has been a premier cover corner, scored touchdowns, and has now been named a Pro Bowl player along with stalwart center Jason Kelce.

Off the Dribble

The NBA’s COVID-19 outbreak hit the 76ers recently when it knocked Andre Drummond, Shake Milton, and Georges Niang out of the lineup.

This week it reared its head once again, with Danny Green entering the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Wednesday. Green, who also missed time with a hamstring injury this season, will not play against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.

His absence is the latest in a long line of players who have been forced to the sidelines because of the coronavirus, as more than 100 NBA players entered the league’s protocols in December.

Next: The Sixers play host to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night at 7 (NBCSP).

On the Fly

While the NHL is on pause through Dec. 25 and the Flyers don’t play until Dec. 29, Flyers prospect Elliot Desnoyers for one will be busy during the holiday season.

That is because the 19-year-old was recently named to Team Canada’s roster for the World Junior Championship in Alberta. Olivia Reiner recently caught up with the 2020 fifth-round pick to discuss his excitement at making the team, his future with the Flyers, and much more.

While Desnoyers will represent his country at the World Juniors, there will be no Flyers representing theirs at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The league announced on Wednesday that has pulled out of February’s games due to COVID-19. The NHL will use the scheduled break to make up the over 50 games that have been postponed so far this season.

Next: With the league amid a four-day pause, the Flyers do not play again until Dec. 29 at Seattle (10 p.m. on NBCSP).

What you’re talking about

“I watched the game last night. I don’t know who called those plays in the 1st quarter. Starting from q2, the Eagles played like Eagles.

I think there is a good chance [the] Eagles will win the rest of the games and be in the playoffs. I always trusted [Jalen] Hurts”. Cherry S.

Who said it?

Which Philadelphia athlete recently said the following? Tell us at: sports.daily@inquirer.com

“Stop booing the players — we put our heart and soul into this.”

A: Joel Embiid

B: Claude Giroux

C: Miles Sanders

D: Jalen Reagor

Yesterday’s trivia time answer: The Eagles quarterbacks for previous Tuesday games were Michael Vick on Dec. 28, 2010, Roy Zimmerman on Sept. 26, 1944.

Note: We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from David Murphy, Marcus Hayes, Olivia Reiner, Giana Han, E.J. Smith, Gina Mizell, and Keith Pompey.