Sixers give an update on Ben Simmons' injury - NBC Sports Philadelphia

14 March 2020

Ben Simmons (nerve impingement in lower back) will be re-evaluated in three weeks, the Sixers announced Wednesday.

The team said Simmons is progressing in his rehabilitation and is “gradually increasing the activities in his strength and conditioning program.” 

Head coach Brett Brown said Simmons first injured his back at practice on Feb. 19 while going up for a rebound. Simmons missed the team’s first game after the All-Star break vs. the Nets, then played on Feb. 22 against the Bucks.

He left that game in the first quarter, seeming to be in discomfort after drawing a foul on Brook Lopez and jogging back to the locker room gingerly.

A two-time All-Star, Simmons is averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds this season. His 115 steals still lead the NBA.

The Sixers have gone 3-4 in Simmons' absence but have actually fared well offensively. Their 119.7 net rating is second-best in the league during that stretch. However, the team's 119.4 defensive rating over the past seven games is worst in the NBA.

Simmons' defensive versatility and ability to guard opposing stars is obviously very valuable, and the Sixers have missed him most on that end of the floor. He was in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation before the injury.

Without Simmons, Shake Milton has taken over as the team’s starting point guard and excelled in that role. Milton has posted 18.7 points and 4.4 assists per game since Simmons’ injury, shooting 62.2 percent from three-point range. 

With 18 regular-season games left, the Sixers are sixth in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Pacers and three games back of the Heat. If Simmons was to return in exactly three weeks, he'd play in the team's final four regular-season games.

Josh Richardson is set to return tonight vs. the Pistons after missing the past three games while in concussion protocol. Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain) is questionable. 

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The Sixers on Wednesday released the following statement regarding tonight’s scheduled game against the Pistons and the coronavirus outbreak:

The health and safety of our players, fans, staff members, partners and the Greater Philadelphia community are important to our organization. We are closely monitoring the latest developments and medical guidance regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Working with medical experts and state and local officials, as well as our venue partner, Wells Fargo Center, we have established health and safety protocols, which we will update as necessary. Consistent with the recommendation of the NBA, tonight’s game versus the Detroit Pistons will proceed as scheduled.

Following the advice of public health officials and medical experts, and consistent with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the recommendations made yesterday by the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health regarding public gatherings with more than 5,000 people, we respectfully request that the following categories of guests not attend upcoming 76ers games until further notice:

  • Guests who are feeling sick, regardless of their symptoms
  • Guests who have traveled to, or been in close contact with someone who has traveled to, one of the high risk areas as outlined by the CDC in the past 14 days, even if asymptomatic
  • Guests who have been in contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past 14 days, even if asymptomatic
  • Guests who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, even if asymptomatic
  • Guests with underlying health conditions, in particular respiratory or cardiac issues


We also remind all guests who attend 76ers games to review and follow with the hygiene guidelines outlined by the CDC at .

Any fans with questions or concerns can reach out to: (215) 339-7600.

We recognize that this may cause inconvenience, and we appreciate the cooperation of our fans so that we can protect the health and safety of all in attendance.


Public Health Guidance:

  *   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  *   World Health Organization:

  *   Pennsylvania Department of Health:

  *   Philadelphia Department of Public Health: >

Tuesday, a team spokesperson told NBC Sports Philadelphia that refund requests would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. 

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and NBPA “discussed ways to continue the season without the cancellation or loss of games -- while conceding the sport was trending toward a period of time without fans in attendance at arenas.” 

The Warriors announced Wednesday that their upcoming home game vs. the Nets would be played without fans in attendance. 

ESPN reports that there will be a conference call with the league’s Board of Governors on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, the NCAA announced Wednesday that its Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be played “with only essential staff and limited family attendance.”

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Updated: 5:30 p.m.

The 38-26 Sixers will play the 20-45 Pistons on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

With the first case of the coronavirus in Philadelphia confirmed Tuesday, city officials are recommending residents do not attend public gatherings of over 5,000 people. The Sixers are aware of that recommendation but plan to play tonight’s game as scheduled and continue to work in conjunction with the NBA and Wells Fargo Center moving forward.

Refund requests will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, a team official told NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The team released a statement late Wednesday afternoon on coronavirus protocols (see story).

Here are tonight’s essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30

Where: Wells Fargo Center 

Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia  

Live stream: and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Embiid and Richardson return 

Joel Embiid will play after missing the past five games with a left shoulder sprain.

Josh Richardson cleared concussion protocol and is also available after being sidelined the past three games. 

“I was in a dark room for a few days, couldn’t really go to games and then just trying to keep the sensory stuff low and figure it out,” he said. “The last few days there have been some headaches and that’s what’s been worrying me, but hopefully it’s over with.”

Ben Simmons remains out (nerve impingement in lower back) and will be re-evaluated in three weeks, the team announced Wednesday.

Give it another shot? 

The pairing of Embiid and Al Horford simply hasn’t worked. It’s the only two-man Sixers lineup that’s played at least 400 minutes with a negative net rating.

Brown still doesn’t want to abandon it.

“I feel going forward when we don't have Ben, my intention is to play [Al] with Joel and try to grow that,” he said. “When Ben comes back in the mix, we'll re-evaluate, but I feel like that period of time that we're talking about is long enough for me, where I do want to invest in the Joel-Al pairing while we don't have Ben and see where that plays out.”

Wood’s emergence 

Detroit has lost 11 of its last 12 games and will be missing a few key players because of injury, including Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard and Blake Griffin. 

The brightest spot on the team has been Christian Wood, who’s averaged 22 points and 10.2 rebounds since the trade deadline. 

A Process Era Sixer on his fifth NBA team, Wood is still just 24 years old and looks set to earn plenty this summer as a free agent. 

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