Injury Concerns Could Prevent Key 76ers From Playing This Week

Justin Grasso

Injuries have been the story of the Philadelphia 76ers' 2019-2020 NBA Season. Before the NBA suspended the season back in March, it seemed as if the Sixers simply couldn't catch a break. So when the season did stop for a few months, it allowed the 76ers to get healthy.

The break was beneficial for Philly. With players like Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Al Horford getting rest, many considered the Sixers to be one of the most improved teams heading into the bubble since they got a chance to hit the reset button.

But in a matter of five seeding games, we quickly found out that injuries just won't go away from the Sixers this year. Last week, Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons injured his knee. The star forward was diagnosed with a subluxation on his left kneecap, which will require surgery to repair. At this point, his status for the season is up in the air.

Just when you think it can't get any worse for Philly -- it does. On Sunday night, while attempting a block on defense, the Sixers' other All-Star Joel Embiid landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle. The six minutes he played in the first quarter against Portland was the last time he saw the court on Sunday.

Now, with just three games left in the regular season, Sixers head coach Brett Brown is left with a tough decision to make. Does he continue to try and compete with the usual starters to try and improve the team's seeding within the Eastern Conference? Or does Brown play it safe and keep some of his key players out to avoid any further issues?

"I don't know," Brown said on Sunday in regards to whether he will play guys like Embiid, Tobias harris, or Al Horford moving forward. "It's true where you want an honest sort of, medical assessment of anything that equals a potential problem you just want to avoid [it]. Landing the plane and entering the playoffs from this vision line of a bubble, and time off, and tip-toeing around on pins and needles where you don't want people to get injured and then still find a rhythm -- that's a slippery slope."

"You mention Jo, I think it extends the question," Brown continued. "For sure, it extends the question to people like Al Horford, for example. You know, making sure Tobias [Harris] is in place, and we can manage his minutes going forward and still find that balance of trying to compete and find a rhythm."

The Sixers are fortunate enough to be in a place where they don't have to fight to clinch a playoff spot. While there's still an opportunity to move up in the rankings, it might not even be worth the risk at this point. Getting to the playoffs as healthy as possible should be Philly's top priority. And if they have to sit key players for the next three games to make that happen -- it might be in their best interest to take the risk of losing seeding games rather than players.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_