Niang enters COVID protocols before Sixers play shorthanded Heat


The 15-13 Sixers are back in Philadelphia and won’t want to replicate their performance from Monday night’s blowout loss to the Grizzlies. 

Here are the essentials for their game Wednesday against the 16-12 Heat:

  • When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. 
  • Where: Wells Fargo Center 
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Live stream: and the MyTeams app

And here's more on the matchup: 

Niang enters protocols 

Miami’s Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo are out with injuries. Not a short list. Additionally, Tyler Herro was listed as questionable with a right quad contusion.

The Sixers upgraded Joel Embiid (right rib soreness) and Seth Curry (right shoulder soreness) to questionable after the two were late scratches on Monday. Both players took jumpers following Wednesday’s shootaround. When Embiid plays this season, the Sixers are 12-5. They’re 3-8 without him.

Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases around the NBA, the Sixers placed Georges Niang into health and safety protocols at approximately 12:30 p.m. Niang is out against Miami and the fifth Sixer to enter protocols this season. Embiid, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe all returned last month.

Furkan Korkmaz is questionable with a non-COVID illness.

The starting wing question  

Thybulle has started the Sixers’ last two games and Danny Green has come off the bench. It’s a move that’s no longer related to Green’s health, as it was when the Sixers were steadily ramping his minutes up following a left hamstring injury.

Green said Wednesday he didn’t know if the change was permanent or matchup-based. The 34-year-old praised Thybulle, especially for his exceptional defense on Stephen Curry during the Sixers’ win over the Warriors, but also acknowledged it’s necessary to “adapt and adjust” when a player goes from bench to starter (and vice versa).

Green recalled that he shot 0 for 8 in his first NBA start and struggled with the new role initially. While he actually went 0 for 8 the game prior and then shot 0 for 5 in his first start — a Spurs win over the Sixers in 2012, by the way — the point certainly stands.

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers has thus far not used Thybulle and Green together often this season, though the team has done well with that duo sharing the floor in a minute sample size. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Sixers have a plus-61.9 net rating in 53 Thybulle-Green possessions outside of garbage time. The numbers weren't so extreme last year but were also very positive — a plus-14.7 net rating in 627 possessions. 

Figuring things out pre-deadline 

There’s currently a lot of noise off the court for the Sixers and the league at large.

The sharp increase in players entering health and safety protocols is impossible to ignore; Brooklyn, the Sixers’ next scheduled opponent, beat the Raptors on Tuesday with just eight players. Dec. 15 was a highly anticipated date because of the many players who signed free-agent deals this offseason that are now trade-eligible. Ben Simmons has yet to play a game this season and anyone who’s heard of the Sixers knows he’d like to be traded.

Though the Sixers have been short on stability, there’s still time to discover it amid all the trade speculation. The trade deadline is Feb. 10 and, if the team doesn’t deal Simmons soon, it would be nice for the Sixers (and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey) to learn more about who they are. 

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