The 76ers will likely have to make a deep playoff run — something they’ve shown no real signs of being able to pull off this season — if Ben Simmons is to appear again in the bubble.
It was confirmed early Friday morning the Australian NBA star partially dislocated his kneecap against the Washington Wizards on Thursday and is out indefinitely.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown couldn’t hide his disappointment after losing his All-Star, saying: “This one stings, for sure.”
Simmons landed awkwardly on his left leg after grabbing an offensive rebound in the third quarter of Philly’s 107-98 win. He immediately exited the court.
Ben Simmons partially dislocated his kneecap. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
After missing the final eight games of the season before the NBA was stopped amid the COVID-19 pandemic with a back injury, Simmons has endured a slow start since action resumed, experiencing foul trouble in games against the Pacers and Spurs.
He managed just eight points, six rebounds and four assists while shooting 2/10 from the field against the Wizards in 23 minutes before exiting the game.
But his teammates have no doubt about the impact of his absence.
“Ben is an incredible player, an incredible athlete,” Shake Milton said. “A super human. So hopefully he’s able to heal super fast and get back out on the court, because we need him.”
“It’s a little frustrating sometimes,” Josh Richardson said. “But that’s the way the game goes. So we’re going to just have to have a next-man-up mentality like we’ve had all year. Guys will pick up the slack, and when we get him back, he’ll fit back in seamlessly.”
Ben Simmons dives for a loose ball. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Brown had shifted Simmons to power forward to make room for Milton in the starting line-up and indicated he would likely elevate Al Horford back into his first five.
Horford had struggled alongside star centre Joel Embiid in the regular season but the pairing has shown more promise since the restart.
“If I had to tilt one way or another, I will pair them,” Brown said. “We’ve played around in game-planning and spitballed what this actually looks like now. If you made me weigh one area or the other, I would pair them.”
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