Simmons out for a 2nd consecutive game because of illness


Ben Simmons will miss a second consecutive game Friday night because of an illness.

Though Simmons had been listed as probable throughout the day, he won't play for the Eastern Conference-leading Sixers against the Bulls. 

Head coach Doc Rivers, who said Wednesday that he thought Simmons' illness was a stomach flu, noted during his pregame media availability that the 24-year-old did not participate in shootaround.

Shake Milton will sit out a fifth consecutive game with a left ankle sprain, though Rivers expects he'll play Sunday against the Raptors.

“Shake looked great today," Rivers said. "I would anticipate seeing Shake next game. We had an early scrimmage with some of the young guys, some of our skill development guys. Shake got up and down the floor. The reason we wouldn’t play him today is then you worry if swelling happens after the workout. We have to wait and see how that goes.”

The Sixers are 1-3 without Simmons this season and 18-7 when he plays. His absence means the team won't have an All-Defensive First Team player to guard Zach LaVine, who's among the contenders for a reserve spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

The All-Star reserves will be announced Tuesday night, and Simmons will be hoping for a third straight selection. He'd been playing excellent basketball, averaging 21.3 points, 8.3 assists and 8.1 rebounds over his last eight games. During that stretch, he's shot 63.8 percent from the floor and 70.7 percent from the foul line.

Matisse Thybulle started in Simmons' place for the Sixers' win Wednesday night over the Rockets and helped the team build a big first-half lead with stellar defense at the top of a 2-3 zone. Despite playing only 17.7 minutes per game, Thybulle has posted 1.6 steals per game (12th in the NBA) and 3.0 deflections per game (tied for 13th).

Joel Embiid is available for the Sixers against Chicago after dealing with back tightness during the team's win over the Rockets. 

"It’s not alarming," Embiid said Wednesday. "As NBA players, we play every single night and the body is just sore and you’ve just got to take care of yourself. It’s normal. It’s just tightness. As the days go, some days it’s tighter than usual, some days it’s not.

"Obviously, in Utah, and even during the Suns game and after the Suns game, it got tighter than usual. Today, especially when we started the game, it was tighter than usual. It’s just some days, and I’ve just got to go home and continue to do what I’ve been doing and I’ll be fine.”

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