Good news from the Sixers, but the upcoming road trip remains a tough task

Dave Uram
February 28, 2020 - 9:45 am
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and guard Ben Simmons (25) during a free throw against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena.

Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — This hasn’t been a week the 76ers and their fans are going to want to etch in their memories.

It’s not often you lose two All-Stars to injuries in a span of five days, but that’s exactly what happened when Ben Simmons suffered nerve impingement to his back on Saturday in Milwaukee, and Joel Embiid sprained his shoulder Wednesday in Cleveland.

Simmons will be out for at least two weeks, and likely longer, but after Thursday’s 115-106 win over the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center, the team finally had good news to share. While it was confirmed Embiid’s shoulder is sprained, testing showed no significant structural damage. Nothing is fractured. Embiid’s progress will be symptom-based, and he’ll be re-evaluated in about a week.

"I’m not really aware of everything that’s been told to you about Joel," coach Brett Brown said shortly after beating New York. "The fact that there is no structural damage, we all hear loudly. Maybe it’s as simple as that, in some ways. Of course [it’s a relief]. And it’s as much from the personal standpoint as it is a selfish coach that he’s looking forward to this run home, this final third, the responsibility — no Ben for how long we’ll all figure out in time.

"To learn that from him, from his perspective and, again, from the team’s perspective, that is exciting news."

After improving their home record to an NBA-best 28-2, the Sixers take their dreadful 9-21 mark on the road for four straight out west starting this weekend.

Unless something unforeseen happens, Embiid will miss Sunday at the Clippers and Tuesday at the Lakers. If the 76ers somehow win at least one of those two, and it’s the only win of the trip, it’s a successful trip. In other words, expect their road record to be 9-23 Wednesday morning. That’s not a knock on Tobias Harris, who had 34 points against the Knicks, or Shake Milton, who was five-of-five from three-point range, but the Clippers feature Kawhi Leonard and the Lakers LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Good luck.

Thursday against Sacramento, our best hope for Embiid's return, should be a win without either Simmons or Embiid. The same goes for Saturday, March 7, at the NBA-worst Golden State Warriors, whether Steph Curry is back from a long injury absence or not.

So basically, have low expectations about your Sixers next week. Wish that they remain at worst in the fifth seed by the time they return to Wells Fargo Center on March 11, and hope that whoever is ahead of them in the standings isn’t too far in front.

The good news going into the weekend is it sounds like Embiid could be out for just a short time, and that’s very important as the postseason is just over a month and a half away.