With his team reeling in the midst of a season-long four-game losing streak, and just 12 games left before the playoffs, Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons may be making his return to the court for Monday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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Source says Ben Simmons actually may return tonight
He has been upgraded this morning from out to questionable pic.twitter.com/ELV7MX5I9d
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 26, 2021
Simmons has missed the last four games with an illness – which initially drew some skepticism and confusion but has since been called a serious flu – and all signs pointed to him missing Monday’s game as well. There were multiple reports Sunday night that had Simmons ruled out for the tilt with the Thunder.
Simmons has missed 12 games in all this season, but in the other instances, none of them had resulted in more than two consecutive contests of rest. Injuries or illnesses are nothing new for the former number one overall pick, as he missed his entire first season with a foot injury after Philadelphia made Simmons the top selection in 2016. Last year, Simmons missed the final five games of the regular season and all four playoff games.
The need for Simmons to return has been evident during the losing streak, and whether or not other sidelined teammates can return against the Thunder may impact the chances of head coach Doc Rivers having the Australian suit up.
Joel Embiid, Danny Green, Tobias Harris All Questionable vs. Thunder
Simmons has been far from the only Sixers player to be battling an ailment or injury in recent days. Danny Green was added to an already lengthy injury report on Monday with a left hip injury and is questionable for Monday’s bout as well.
Simmons has been upgraded to questionable, as @JClarkNBCS reported earlier.
Danny Green (left hip recovery) is now also questionable, along with Embiid, Harris, Korkmaz and Reed. https://t.co/bSwEOb6VwT
— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) April 26, 2021
Entering this week, Green is the team leader in games played at 59, with his only absence all season coming last time the Sixers played the Thunder on April 10. Joel Embiid, Furkan Korkmaz, and Paul Reed joined Simmons on the list of unavailable players in Saturday’s brutal loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite the Sixers being back home for Monday after a tough back-to-back road losses in Milwaukee, and even though OKC is nearing mathematical elimination from postseason contention at 20-40, Philadelphia may be in close to “must-win” territory. They’re in virtually no danger of having to participate in the play-in tournament for the seven through 10 seeds, and have all but locked up a playoff berth, but with a fifth-straight loss, they would be two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the top seed and only 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks for the second seed.
While Philly’s end-of-season schedule is going to ease up considerably, following the game vs. OKC, their next three will include home games against the playoff-hungry Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday and Friday, and a road game against legendary coach Gregg Popovich’s Spurs on Sunday. The Bucks meanwhile take on the Charlotte Hornets, league-worst Houston Rockets, and ice-cold Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday respectively.
George Hill Plays Former Team for First Time
Monday’s game between the Sixers and Thunder will act as a reunion of sorts for three players, as Philly’s George Hill and OKC’s Tony Bradley and Théo Maledon will be playing against organizations that they used to call home.
Maledon was the Sixers’ second pick during the 2020 NBA Draft at 34th overall, but was traded to the Thunder just a couple of weeks later. In 54 games including 38 starts this season, the rookie guard has averaged 9.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game.
Bradley was the primary piece sent from Philadelphia to Oklahoma City in the trade deadline day deal that had Hill join the Sixers. After spending his first three seasons with the Utah Jazz, Bradley played in 20 games this season for Philly before the trade.
In 15 games off the bench for OKC so far, Bradley has averaged 9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game. Arguably his best performance of the season, if not his entire career came when the Sixers and Thunder played on April 10 and Bradley posted a 16-point, 14-rebound double-double and collected three blocks in 25 minutes of action.
For Hill, OKC wasn’t a place he called home for long, playing just 14 games with the club early in the season, but none over the final two months due to a thumb injury. If Simmons is forced to miss his fifth straight game on Monday, expect Hill to get the starting nod and rookie Tyrese Maxey to get plenty of playing time running point.
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