Ben Simmons' Injury Calls for More Consistency From Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris
The Philadelphia 76ers are going through this season with tons of struggles thanks to injuries, which occurred to key players. In the past, the Sixers have been a team that's widely known for lack of health surrounding certain players. One thing they could always look on the bright side with, though, is that their starting point guard is quite durable.
Although Ben Simmons missed his first season in the NBA due to a broken foot, the young guard has managed to play in 214 of 222 regular season matchups over the last three seasons. Unfortunately, two of those absences have occurred recently.
Last week, Simmons injured his back and missed his third game of the year against Brooklyn. He appeared on the floor during the following game against Milwaukee, but his return lasted less than five minutes. After undergoing tests and even missing this past Monday's game against Atlanta, Simmons was diagnosed with a nerve impingement.
Now, the All-Star guard is set to miss at least two week's worth of games before getting re-evaluated. Word around the league is that even when the first re-evaluation arrives, there's a good chance Simmons remains away from the game as he fully heals.
It's never an ideal situation for a team to lose their starting point guard, who just so happens to be an All-Star. Considering the Sixers already had their fair share of struggles with Simmons healthy and available, this recent injury sets the team back even more.
While Sixers' head coach Brett Brown looked for the positive in the situation, he still understands that Simmons isn't replaceable with what they've got on-hand. However, there are other players in other areas of the roster who are talented enough to make up for this loss, but those guys have to be able to play well to stay afloat consistently.
On Monday night, the Sixers hosted the Atlanta Hawks while short-handed, and they managed to come away with a 129-112 win. Sixers' starting center Joel Embiid exploded for a career-high of 49-points while Tobias Harris chipped in with a solid 25-point effort of his own. Now we're all aware that Embiid and Harris are capable of such performances, Brett Brown expects them two to step up and earn their paychecks by putting the team on their backs.
"It's clear to [Joel Embiid] that he has to come out and play like he did [against the Hawks] for the most part," Brown stated on Monday. "Nobody is asking him to get 50 [points] every night, but his mentality is the thing that impressed me the most. When he comes out with that energy and mentality, he makes a statistician work -- and we will win a lot of games."
Embiid can't do it all alone, though. The max-contracted forward Tobias Harris has to consistently have his hand in this as well. While Harris has been good this season, he has yet to reach his potential on a nightly basis. "At this stage in the season, it's a show-me league," Brown said. "For [Tobias Harris]. . . we need to know what we're getting."
"We're going to need solid performances if we're going to try and move up the food chain and find a home-court placement before the playoffs begin. We gotta' do that without an NBA All-Star and our starting point guard, so it's a heck of a lot easier to talk about it rather than do it. To do it, we need more consistent performances like that [from Tobias Harris].
The Sixers are set to continue their final third of the year on Wednesday night with a road matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Philly will have a chance to pick up just their tenth win of the year on the road against a struggling Cleveland team. Wednesday will be the perfect opportunity for Embiid and Harris to continue to earn their stripes this year.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_