De'Anthony Melton

Nurse expects Melton out at least a week as Sixers aim to ‘fix' lingering back injury 

The Sixers' combo guard is sidelined again.

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De’Anthony Melton’s planned ramp-up did not unfold in the smoothest fashion.

Melton, who’d returned from a three-game absence with lumbar spine soreness to play in the Sixers’ past two contests, is now sidelined again.

“I think it’s going to be at least a week,” Sixers head coach Nick Nurse said Monday before his team’s afternoon meeting with the Rockets. “At least a week and we’ll go from there.”

The Sixers did get their biggest piece back in the fold vs. Houston; Joel Embiid came back from a left knee injury — and with no minutes limit, per Nurse.

In addition to Melton, the Sixers were down Robert Covington (left knee inflammation), Jaden Springer (right ankle tendinitis) and Mo Bamba (right knee fat pad impingement).

As for Melton, Nurse said the Sixers’ medical staff felt it was most prudent for the 25-year-old guard to sit.

“He played (two games) and he was OK,” Nurse said. “He could’ve continued playing. He wasn’t quite as effective or as mobile as we like. And we think it’s something we can fix for a little bit better longer-term return. So there’s a little issue there. He could play — probably not 100 percent, not that close to that — but he could be out there and wouldn’t probably hurt it any more. 

“But they think they can fix it to where he can get back to 100 percent longer term. We think that’s the smart thing to do.”

Melton has played 33 games thus far, starting all of them and averaging 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals. 

He missed just five games last season, although he dealt with a back issue for much of the year. Melton said last week that his current injury is different. According to Melton, when he suffered a left quadriceps contusion on Dec. 20, “it kind of shot up to my back a little bit.”

“Just continue to strengthen everything around it, and offloading it sometimes, too,” Melton said last Monday. “I’ve got to ... use my glutes and my hips. All that type of stuff will (be) a factor in the long run.”

Nurse was optimistic that the time out would ultimately serve Melton well. 

“We’ve got a lot of faith and trust in what those guys are doing,” he said. “They needed to test it to see where he is before they got to this solution.

“More information leads to a new path sometimes. … I think that’s all it is. I think they feel really good about it. They feel really confident in what they’re doing and that this is the right decision.”

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