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Doc Rivers likes where the Sixers are at in a long NBA season

Doc Rivers has only had a full list of starters eight times prior to Tuesday's matchup, putting together a 5-3 record. The Sixers dealt with injury and illness most of the season.

Doc Rivers' Sixers were in sixth place in the Eastern Conference heading into Wednesday's game at the Charlotte Hornets.
Doc Rivers' Sixers were in sixth place in the Eastern Conference heading into Wednesday's game at the Charlotte Hornets.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 76ers have been hit hard by illness and injury with inconsistent attendance and Ben Simmons’ prolonged absence contributing to a 14-11 record.

The Sixers, who were 18-7 at this point last season, have had 14 different starting lineups. Simmons, who has requested a trade, has yet to play this season.

Asked about the Sixers’ health, coach Doc Rivers said his guys are getting there.

“It’s coming,” Rivers said. “You know Joel [Embiid] and Tobias [Harris] are still dealing with the effects of COVID and now getting out of that. Tyrese [Maxey] is getting over the flu. But I will say this the first time we haven’t had other injuries. No hip [injuries] or anything like that.

“Everybody in the league is banged up. That’s just the NBA. But hopefully in the next week or so, we can have a healthy team.”

» READ MORE: While the Sixers are especially snakebit, this week underscored COVID-19′s league-wide impact

A season ago, the Sixers had the Eastern Conference’s best record. They are now in sixth place in a jam-packed conference heading into Wednesday’s game. The Sixers are a half-game behind the fourth-place Miami Heat and a game ahead of the 10th-place Charlotte Hornets.

“We like where we are at,” Rivers said. “Our record’s fine. We will take it. We understand what we’ve gone through.

“But we’ve gone through it and came out and we’re still above .500 playing decent basketball. It’s just the way that it’s a long season.”

Sixers full starting lineup faces off against Hornets

The Sixers had their opening-day starting lineup intact for just the ninth time during Wednesday night’s 110-106 against the Hornets.

Maxey felt better and participated in Wednesday morning’s shootaround. However, his official status for the game at the Spectrum Center wasn’t determined until 90 minutes the game.

Maxey missed Monday’s 127-124 overtime victory over the Hornets for a non-COVID-19 related illness.

“I don’t know what I got,” he said after being asked if he had the flu. “I was dying.”

» READ MORE: Sixers lean heavily on Embiid; Doc Rivers says they have work to do

While Maxey wasn’t being literal, his comments show that he wasn’t in the right condition to play Monday.

He attended that morning’s shootaround, and began feeling “really bad” after returning to the team hotel. As a result, the 21-year-old missed his first game of the season.

Based on the sound of his voice, Maxey was still somewhat under the weather on Wednesday. He finished with six points, three assists and three turnovers against the Hornets.

He’s third on the team in scoring (17.2 points) behind Embiid and Harris. Maxey also leads the team in assists (4.9). The Sixers are 6-3 in games with their opening-day starting lineup intact.