The Philadelphia 76ers hit a bit of a snag lately as the team has dealt with its fair share of COVID-19 cases. Two weeks ago, Sixers veteran forward Tobias Harris became the first member of the team to get sent into the NBA's health and safety protocol as he tested positive for COVID.
A few days later, Isaiah Joe became the second player to deal with it as he entered the protocol as well. One day after Joe was ruled out, Matisse Thybulle became the third player to enter the protocol. And while it seemed that was going to be it for the 76ers, Joel Embiid was another surprising case a few days after Thybulle.
At this point, it seems the Sixers' COVID-related issues have calmed down as Embiid was the last player to test positive last Monday. While that's certainly a good sign for the future, Embiid and Thybulle's absence in the present has really caused the Sixers to take a hit lately.
Missing five games, the Thybulle-less Sixers are 1-4. Without Embiid, the 76ers haven't picked up a single win as they went 0-4 without him last week. Following Saturday's game, when the Sixers picked up their fourth-straight loss, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers discussed just how much Embiid and Thybulle's absence had affected them.
"Our deflections and steals are way down because of that," Rivers said. "Part of our success offensively is our ability to get stops. Now that we can't get stops, they're able to run, and that's just the way the game goes. So we have to find ourselves on this road trip for sure. It's so many little things. Just the collective IQ is down as well when you lose two guys like that, so we'll figure it out. We got five more games on the road to do that. We'll probably even possibly have two practices during this stretch."
The Sixers have another five-straight road games coming up before they head back home. Embiid and Thybulle could join the team at some point during that stretch, but it's still a difficult situation to be in -- especially when you're in the midst of a multi-game losing streak already.
While the current situation certainly isn't ideal, it's still very early on in the year. Therefore, the Sixers can afford to lose as they've been shorthanded for the last couple of weeks. Even with all of the Ben Simmons-related turmoil going down behind the scenes, the Sixers have proven they can win games. Now, they just hope to get some key reinforcements in Embiid and Thybulle back in the mix so they can start getting back in the winner's column.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.