MIAMI — Josh Richardson’s strained left hamstring appears to be progressing well.
The 76ers shooting guard began playing two-on-two and participating in light contact drills Monday. But he remained sidelined for the game against the Miami Heat, the fifth straight Richardson has missed since suffering his injury against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22. He left that game after just under 4 minutes of action.
“I felt good,” Richardson said. “When you are starting to first come back, you are kind of careful. So I was just trying to be smart, kind of careful about it. All of my movements felt good.”
In addition to playing two-on-two, Richardson did some sprinting, hard acceleration, hard stops, and cuts. The focus was on doing things that are explosive.
Richardson said he doesn’t have an exact return date -- “soon, hopefully,” he said with a smile.
Richardson is averaging 15.0 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.0 steal in 38 games.
This isn’t the first time this season Richardson has dealt with an injury. He missed two games with right hip flexor tightness in November. Then, in his third game back from that injury, he experienced right hamstring tightness. That sidelined the 26-year-old for six games.
Richardson thinks he may have overcompensated on his left hamstring following that injury, which led to his latest injury.
Shake Milton has started at shooting guard for the Sixers in Richardson’s absence. The second-year guard had a career-high 27 points in the loss Thursday in Atlanta. He was averaging 14 points in his four starts entering Monday.
Coach Brett Brown pointed to his intelligence, shooting, and ability to handle the ball as reasons for starting a player who had spent part of this season in the NBA G League.
“I think he complements the team a little bit like J-Rich complemented the team prior to his injury,” Brown said.
Richardson’s injury hasn’t provided more minutes for Trey Burke. The reserve point guard played 5:05 of action late in the blowout loss to the Celtics on Saturday in Boston. He also played in the final 55 seconds on Jan. 25 during a lopsided home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Those have been his only two games since playing 4:05 on Jan. 13 in a loss at Indiana that was his last of 12 straight appearances.
“We go back and forth with Raul [Neto] and Trey,” Brown said of playing the backup point guards. "What does Raul have to do? We all remember four days ago when Raul had 19 points in the first half. So you are not going to play those two guys together. It’s one or the other.
“It’s true that Trey has value. We saw that the last time we were down here ..."