Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons missed his first game of the season on Saturday as his team faced the Denver Nuggets at home. When Simmons was first ruled out on Saturday hours before tip-off, it seemed the Sixers were just keeping their star off the court as a good chunk of the team was out due to health and safety protocol related to Seth Curry's positive COVID-19 test.
But that wasn't the case. Following the Sixers' Thursday night throwdown with the Brooklyn Nets last week, Simmons dealt with stiffness and swelling in his knee. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers admitted that he figured Simmons would miss Saturday's matchup after Thursday's game. However, the veteran guard wasn't listed on the injury report, which resulted in the Sixers getting punished by the league.
Although the handling of the reporting related to Simmons' injury made the situation strange, the two-time All-Star is indeed continuing to undergo treatment on his knee, which he is reportedly responding well to. In order to avoid any further setbacks, the Sixers allowed Simmons to remain in Philly as the team traveled to Atlanta on Sunday.
With a Monday night game scheduled against the Hawks, the Sixers will once again be without Simmons. How long will his absence last? Rivers won't say for sure, but he doesn't rule out a return as early as Tuesday night when the Sixers face the Miami Heat.
"I don't think [it's anything long-term]," Rivers said in regards to Simmons' injury on Monday night before facing the Hawks. "But again, we thought it might be one game, and it's already two. You know, so we're hoping he will play tomorrow night, but I can't guarantee any of that."
As a notable portion of the Sixers' roster is currently out, and we aren't even a full month into the NBA season, Philly's organization plans to continue to play it extra safe with injuries this year. Therefore, they won't trot Simmons back out onto the court until he's feeling one-hundred percent again.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_