Furkan Korkmaz made a point to mention why he missed the 76ers’ previous three games.

“One day I woke up, and I just started feeling really cold,” he said Thursday morning. “That was the flu. That was not COVID. That’s the good news.

“But I was knocked down. I was in the bed for two days almost.”

That Korkmaz felt the need to announce his illness was not coronavirus isa sign of the times, especially in the NBA, where more than 90 players are in health and safety protocols.

The outbreak has led to nine games being postponed this month, and the assumption that a player has COVID when he is sick. That’s why Korkmaz specified that he had the flu.

“When you say hi to somebody, they look at you weird,” he said. “They don’t want to shake your hand. Still you don’t want to do that, but you know how it works.”

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Korkmaz has worked out the past three days after days of bed rest. The fifth-year veteran said he missed being around teammates and is super excited to be back “like it’s the beginning of the season.”

Korkmaz said his teammates were excited to see him return.

“Especially right now,” he said, “we are losing most of our bodies. Everybody’s down. I hope everybody gets back healthy as soon as possible. But I know my teammates. They enjoy seeing me back.”

Normal starting point guard Tyrese Maxey also returned after missing two games with a left quad contusion. Both played in Thursday’s 98-96 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center. Korkmaz started in place of Maxey.

However, Danny Green, Andre Drummond, Shake Milton, and Georges Niang are sidelined because of the coronavirus. The team is also without Ben Simmons, who has yet to play this season because he remains mentally unfit to compete for the Sixers and wants to be traded.

Tyler Johnson excited about Sixers opportunity

The Sixers being undermanned because of COVID has created an opportunity for Tyler Johnson, who signed a 10-day replacement player deal on Wednesday.

“Doc just told me come and play basketball,” Johnson said of Sixers coach Doc Rivers. “If I get an opportunity to just come in and play, fortunately enough, Doc’s kind of old school and so a lot of the terminology is very similar. So it’s not that big of an adjustment.”

But as of Thursday morning, things have been “pretty light” for him.

“Just introductions, meeting a lot of great people,” Johnson said, “and that’s probably where we’re at right now.”

However, he’s familiar with the Sixers, averaging 10.7 points against them in 14 games and five starts over his career. As a member of the Miami Heat, the combo guard also shot 60% from three-point land against the Sixers in a 2018 first-round playoff series.

“You got to get acclimated,” he said. “I haven’t played with any of these guys before, but as far as the organization, I played them in the playoffs when I was with Miami.

“Obviously, Doc has been around for a while and I’ve talked to a lot of guys who have played for him and the good thing is, he just lets you play. On that end, I think I’ll get to know guys a little bit more once we get up and down a little.”

Road improvements

Not too long ago, the Sixers experienced their share of road woes. Two seasons ago, they went 12-26 away from the Wells Fargo Center. That marked the 15th losing road record over a 16-season stretch.

But things have changed since Doc Rivers was hired before the start of last season. The Sixers posted a 20-16 road record last season and are 10-8 this season. While 10-8 isn’t overly impressive, it’s better than their home record. They’re 6-8 at home following Thursday night’s loss.

Reddish Giving back

Norristown native and Hawks small forward Cam Reddish and his family donated money for a new room at the Norristown Recreation Center. The center unveiled “The Cameron Reddish Room” on Wednesday. It is complete with lounge furniture and new gaming consoles.