On Saturday morning, the Sixers thought they would be without two typical starters for that night’s game against the Kings.
It turns out they missed three pieces of their usual starting five.
Ben Simmons was sidelined Saturday night because of left knee soreness. A Sixers official said Simmons participated in the team’s morning shootaround and experienced soreness afterwards. The three-time All-Star was listed as probable on the NBA’s 5:30 p.m. injury report.
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Seth Curry (left ankle soreness) and Joel Embiid (left knee bone bruise) had been ruled out for the Sixers’ weekend back-to-back against the Kings and Knicks. Curry will be re-evaluated after the Sixers play New York, while Embiid is set to be re-evaluated in a week.
The Sixers started Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, Tobias Harris and Tony Bradley. Harris and Milton combined for 57 points in the Sixers' impressive 129-105 win over Sacramento.
After the game, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was uncertain of Simmons' status for Sunday.
“I literally didn’t ask," he said. “I don’t know. I wish I could give you more information.”
Simmons, who’s averaged 15.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists, had surgery in August to remove a loose body from his left knee, which ended his 2019-20 season. The Sixers lost their first three games this season without him and have won their last five. He was sidelined for the team’s first two games after the All-Star break following his barber testing positive for COVID-19.
The 24-year-old Simmons thinks he’s deserving of the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Per the NBA’s tracking data, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo shot 2 for 8 and had four turnovers when guarded by Simmons in the Sixers’ overtime loss Wednesday to Milwaukee.
“I think I am,” Simmons said after the Sixers' shootaround Saturday. No disrespect to (Jazz center Rudy Gobert) at all — he’s a great shot blocker and defender — but he’s not guarding one through five. He’s guarding fives and probably big fours. He’s a great defender, but I don’t think he’s guarding one through five. … He’s not doing that on a daily basis.”