Saturday night’s game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers marked the first faceoff between the two NBA teams who are expected to be in a tight battle for Eastern Conference supremacy in the 2019-20 NBA season. Unfortunately, just when things were starting to get exciting, the Sixers lost one of their best players, Ben Simmons, to injury. In just five minutes of action, Simmons was escorted to the locker room after suffering a back injury.
The former No. 1 overall pick was unable to rejoin the Sixers in the game, and the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks walked away with an easy 119-98 victory. To make things more complicated, reports recently surfaced that Simmons would be missing an extended period of time due to injury. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Simmons is currently undergoing treatment and will be evaluated in two weeks.
As of now, there’s no guarantee that Simmons would be able to return to the court after 14 days, and the Sixers still haven’t released a timeline. However, Simmons’ doctors are hoping that the treatment could help his nerve impingement over time. With Simmons set to be on the sideline for a long period of time, Sixers head coach Brett Brown said that their other All-Star, Joel Embiid, is aware that he would need to carry a heavier load in their upcoming games.
“[Embiid] knows it more than I can say it,” Brown said. “We talked a little bit about it. With the sort of news of Ben, and him not being there, it’s clear he’s got to come out and he’s got to play like he did tonight for the most part. Nobody is asking him to get 50 a night, for the most part, but his mentality is the thing that most impressed me.”
Embiid definitely has no problem being relied on by the Sixers. As evidence of that, in their recent game against the Atlanta Hawks, Embiid showed that he could lead the Sixers to a victory even without Simmons on their side. In their Monday night win over the Hawks, Embiid finished with 49 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, one block, and three steals, while shooting 70.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Simmons’ absence could also somehow be beneficial for Al Horford, who is yet to live up to expectations from the massive contract he signed with the Sixers last summer. While Simmons is out, Horford is expected to have a more significant role and more playing time, which could enable him to familiarize himself with the Sixers’ system.