Ben Simmons sidelined for Sixers-Rockets game


The game after scoring a career-high 42 points against the Jazz, Ben Simmons is sidelined.

Simmons appeared on the NBA’s 5:30 p.m. injury report as questionable with an illness, and Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said during his pregame media availability that the 24-year-old won’t play in the team’s game Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center against the Rockets. 

The illness is unrelated to COVID-19, according to Rivers, who thought Simmons had a stomach flu. 

Joel Embiid will play against the Rockets after being listed as probable throughout the day with back tightness, per Rivers. He’d sat out the Sixers’ loss to the Jazz with that injury, the sixth game he’s missed this season. The team is 1-5 without him and has a net rating 20.7 points better when he’s on the floor than when he’s off, according to Cleaning the Glass

Shake Milton remains out with a left ankle sprain. He suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Sixers’ win over the Kings, and the team’s bench was outscored by a total of 87 points over the next three games. 

“I think he’s getting close,” Rivers said. “He was on the floor today, he did some shooting. So I’m just going to assume he’s getting closer, but I can’t tell you when.”

With Simmons out, the Sixers figure to use Dwight Howard as a conventional backup center to Embiid and further develop small-ball looks with Simmons at the five once he’s healthy. The offensive success with Mike Scott in the starting lineup and Simmons guarded by opposing centers was one of the primary positive takeaways for the Sixers from Monday’s game. 

Houston big man Christian Wood is out for a seventh straight game with a right ankle sprain, with DeMarcus Cousins expected to start in his place. Victor Oladipo (right foot strain) and P.J. Tucker (left quad contusion) are out for the Rockets, Houston head coach Stephen Silas told reporters, while Eric Gordon (right groin soreness) will be a game-time decision. 

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