Kelly Oubre Jr.

Oubre participates ‘in portions of practice,' will join Sixers for two-game road trip 

Nick Nurse provided an update Tuesday on Oubre's progress.

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CAMDEN, N.J. — Sixers wing Kelly Oubre Jr. will join the team for its two-game road trip to New Orleans and Boston.

According to Sixers head coach Nick Nurse, Oubre “was in portions of practice” Tuesday. Nurse didn’t fully rule out the possibility that Oubre, who’s missed the past nine games with a fractured rib, could play Friday against the Celtics. He'll remain out Wednesday against the Pelicans.

“Maybe,” Nurse said. “Not tomorrow, but there’s more than one game on this trip. We are trying to do it as fast as we can and get him going. I’m not making many determinations on that he didn’t make it through everything today. I think he probably could have, but they just decided to go condition him and run him a little bit more. I think there’s (multiple) parts of it because he hasn’t played. 

“Now there’s some conditioning work that needs to be done, on top of just seeing what he can handle contact-wise. I know he was in, and then I looked up and saw him doing sprints on the other court. So that’s just the medical (staff’s) best advice on what to do with him at the moment.”

Oubre suffered his injury on Nov. 11 when he was struck by a motor vehicle, according to a Sixers official. 

He returned to the practice court last Monday.

“I’m just waiting for (the medical staff) to tell me he’s ready to go,” Nurse said. “I think that’s always the progress: Can he go? Is he freely moving? Which I think he is. Can he get into the contact part of it? Not quite all the way there yet, I don’t think, with some sustainability. And then we’ve got to see where he is conditioning-wise at the end of that.”

The 12-5 Sixers were also down Danuel House Jr. (left quad contusion) and Jaden Springer (illness) for their last two victories over the Thunder and Lakers. Both players will be sidelined for the Pelicans game as well. The Sixers played a nine-man rotation against OKC and L.A., although garbage time was plentiful Monday night as the Sixers cruised to a 44-point win vs. the Lakers.

Nurse called it a “very uncommon game” and focused on the many ways that he still wants the Sixers to raise their defensive level. 

The team ranks second in the NBA in offensive rating and 12th in defensive rating, per Cleaning the Glass.

“There’s a bunch of stuff,” he said. “Most of it relates to me learning what to do with Joel (Embiid). … I’m trying to continue to find tweaks, things we can do to use his strengths and hopefully our team’s strengths the best. 

“So it’s mostly how do we rotate? What are we doing when somebody gets beat? How are we covering up? I think we’re not snuffing out problems very well. When there’s a major breakdown … I think we’ve got to try to make them make more than one play. We’ve got to stop the problem and create another problem, see if we can make them make three decisions in the half court rather than one when something bad’s started to happen.”

On paper, the Pelicans have not been a strong offensive team this season. They sit at 9-9 overall following consecutive losses to the Jazz. 

Nurse and the Sixers are wary of the unique challenge All-Star forward Zion Williamson poses, though. 

In three career games against the Sixers, the 23-year-old has averaged 33.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists. 

“Man, it takes a team,” De’Anthony Melton said of guarding Williamson. “I think it takes loading up, getting in his path and not being scared of him. I think that’s the biggest thing.” 

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