There was always a sense that Ben Simmons could be sidelined at least until late in the regular season or the start of the postseason. It appears that possibility could become a reality for the 76ers point guard, who is sidelined with a pinched nerve in his lower back.
The two-time All-Star missed his eighth consecutive game when the Sixers hosted the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. The Sixers announced before the game that Simmons will be reevaluated in three weeks.
Three weeks from Wednesday is April 1. At that point, just seven games would remain in the regular season, which will conclude April 15. The NBA playoffs will begin April 18.
Simmons was asked if he’s confident that he’ll be back this season.
“I can’t give you dates or a timeline,” he said. “I’m doing well. The rehab has been great, progressing, staying in there and doing what I can to come back 100 percent.”
Simmons said rehab involved going through a lot of “treatment things.”
“Working on nerves," he said, "releasing tension and just getting back to who I was.”
Simmons has yet to participate in on-court training.
He said he began his rehabilitation a few days after pinching the nerve in his back against the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 22 in Wisconsin. Simmons wouldn’t say if he received a cortisone shot or not.
SImmons did, however, say he’s pain-free.
“I feel very strong,” he said.
The team has been vague about the injury. The Sixers, though, did have to wait on the swelling in his back to subside.
A pinched nerve — or “nerve impingement,” as the Sixers refer to it — is a symptom of a larger problem. In most instances, waiting for swelling to subside is a disk problem. The disk bulges and impinges the nerves. To resolve it requires rest, an injection -- or surgery if the first two remedies don’t work.
It takes extended time to return to full strength. In a statement, the Sixers said Simmons continues to progress in his rehab. It said that he’s receiving daily treatment and gradually increasing strength and conditioning activities.
The team said he experienced lower-back tightness while grabbing a rebound during practice Feb. 19, the first practice back from the All-Star break. Simmons received treatment and missed the following day’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
But the next game for the underachieving Sixers was on the road against the NBA’s best team, the Bucks, on Feb. 22, on national television. He played just 4 minutes, 44 seconds.
Simmons called the lower-back tightness and pinched nerve two different incidents. He also denied that he may have hurt his back in the All-Star Game.
This isn’t the first time that Simmons has dealt with lower-back problems. He’s been dealing with tightness since the 2018-19 season.
Simmons left the Oct. 20, 2018, game against the Orlando Magic with back tightness in the first quarter. He did not return and also missed the following game. This preseason, he missed the final two games because of it.