Sixers forced to adjust again with Curry's injury


The Sixers will be without two typical starters for their weekend back-to-back set against the Kings and Knicks.

Seth Curry, who sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter of the Sixers’ overtime loss Wednesday to the Bucks, won’t play Saturday or Sunday. He’ll be re-evaluated after the back-to-back. Joel Embiid remains out with a left knee bone bruise.

“He didn’t do anything today,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said of Curry after his team's practice Friday. “We’re just going to monitor it. There’s no return date or anything like that. We’ll wait and see.”

Curry was a key part of the Sixers’ win over Sacramento on Feb. 9, scoring 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting. The Sixers are 4-4 in games he’s missed this season, though they were severely shorthanded for losses on Jan. 9 and Jan. 11 after Curry tested positive for COVID-19. 

He learned of his positive test during the Sixers’ Jan. 7 game against the Nets. Curry was fortunately out that night with left ankle soreness instead of being on the floor.

As for who will replace Curry in the Sixers’ starting lineup, Rivers was cagey. 

“You can pretty much guess, it’s down to a couple guys,” he said. “I’ll let you figure that out.”

Furkan Korkmaz closed out Wednesday’s game, hitting a game-tying three-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in regulation, and would appear to be one of the candidates to start. Rivers has been pleased with Korkmaz, who has averaged 14.6 points and made 13 of 25 threes (52 percent) since the All-Star break. 

“ … I have pretty high expectations for him. … We’re still getting him to pull the ball more on pick-and-rolls,” Rivers said Wednesday. “I think he can be a factor there with his size. He did it the first play in overtime. He was wide-open, he just missed the shot. There’s things that he can still do, but he’s been playing great. He plays with great confidence, and that’s what we need out there. I’m really happy with him.”

Matisse Thybulle is another option if Rivers wants to bolster an already-strong defense from the opening tip. Thybulle has 14 steals and six blocks in 104 minutes after the break, including two starts.

The Sixers in March have a 100.9 defensive rating, per Cleaning the Glass, which is best in the NBA. They were close to flawless in the first half against Milwaukee, holding one of the league’s best offenses to 31 points. 

“The first half of the Milwaukee game, that was as good as you can play defense,” Rivers said. “Unfortunately, I thought the second half, for a lot of reasons — the emotions of the game, the fatigue of playing four games in five nights — we kind of let up. We made a lot of mental errors.

“I would say defensively where we can improve, transition D would be No. 1. And then just the mental lapses. We showed our team today, I think we had 14 points (that were) just our fault defensively. In single-possession games, those come back and haunt you.”

Shake Milton has only started once this season, that Jan. 7 game in Brooklyn, posting a team-high 24 points and seven assists. As usual, he’ll take on a chunk of the ball handling responsibilities regardless of whether he starts. 

With the Nets' loss Friday night to the Magic, the 28-13 Sixers are a half-game ahead of Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference standings. Saturday’s game will be the last on their four-game homestand, followed by six consecutive road games. Yet again, the Sixers won’t be able to lean on Plan A for the beginning of that trip. 

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