Sixers' Ben Simmons Ruled Out vs. Brooklyn Nets on Thursday
The Philadelphia 76ers are set to return to the court on Thursday after spending more than a week off for the NBA All-Star break. For the first time in a while, the Sixers were thrilled to have a clean injury report with more than a week's worth of time off to have everybody who was even dealing with a slight setback fully recover.
But Wednesday's return to practice caused a bit of a setback for the team's All-Star guard, Ben Simmons. Following Wednesday's practice, Simmons reported lower back pain to the Sixers' training staff. After getting it checked out, the Sixers' guard was diagnosed with lower back tightness.
Back pain isn't new for Simmons, who has dealt with his fair share of strains throughout the year. However, this time around is slightly different. Typically, when Simmons is questionable, the All-Star pushes through and plays. On Thursday, though, he couldn't shake the pain when he arrived at the arena.
Now, the Sixers are set to face the Brooklyn Nets without Simmons on Thursday. This season, Simmons has appeared in three games against Brooklyn, where he averaged just under 25 points-per-game along with 8.7 assists. As the Sixers played Brooklyn without their other All-Star, Joel Embiid, in all three matchups this year, they needed Simmons in for nearly 40 minutes-per-matchup.
The good news is Embiid will play for the Sixers against the Nets on Thursday. The unfortunate news is that Simmons' minutes will have to be replaced. As of late, Josh Richardson has acquired the backup point guard minutes while Simmons is off the floor, but the Sixers will likely have to utilize a small dose of Raul Neto too as long as Simmons is out on Thursday. The team will update Simmons' availability for Saturday's game as early as Friday, according to a team spokesperson.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_