Sixers coach Brett Brown expects Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to be healthy enough to play whenever the NBA season resumes, write Rich Hofmann and Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Brown offered a medical update on both stars and covered a few other topics during a conference call Friday with Philadelphia media.
Simmons hasn’t played since suffering a lower back impingement in February. His injury has allowed him to work out at the team facility during the hiatus, and general manger Elton Brand said last week that he’s optimistic Simmons can return by the time play starts again. Brown called the injury “as disturbing a memory as it relates to a player that I can think of.”
“He’s lying on his back, he’s vomiting primarily because of pain, and trying to get him back on the plane and build him back up to some level of health where he can play basketball with us again, that timeline was always an interesting one,” Brown said.
Embiid was dealing with a shoulder sprain and had just returned to the lineup on the night the hiatus began. Although he no longer has any pressing injury concerns, Brown said Embiid’s health and fitness levels will be important, saying he has a “desire to be at a playing weight that equals his best since he’s been in the league.”
Brown addressed a few other topics during the conference call:
What will it mean for the Sixers if the season can’t be completed?
“I feel this strongly … this thing is so, for me, incomplete. We need to be able to come back to the table, take the team that we have, the work that we’ve been putting in, and let that be Judgment Day. Let that environment be, you know, ‘you did’ or ‘you didn’t’ type stuff. And that’s how I approach it. I feel very confident, and respectfully cocky, that we’ve done good work (during this stoppage). I’m proud of my coaching staff.”
How would playing in an empty arena change the atmosphere?
“Obviously, playing in front of no fans, especially our fans, isn’t ideal. How will it play out? I don’t know. None of us have ever done this. But the alternative of simply not playing is obviously far less desired. Do I think it’ll water down the competitive side? I don’t. Of course, it’s going to have some level of an impact. I do feel just the mere fact that we’ll be playing again might be able to sort of minimize whatever awkwardness playing in front of zero fans (would have).”
How he’s using “The Last Dance” documentary as a teaching tool:
“We’re all, ‘You need shooters, you need defensive people, you need somebody to pick ’em, Jo, Ben, whatever. Like, it’s hard for me to go past that human quality: ‘Are you a sick competitor? Does it really bother you when you lose?’ Obviously, that part of that documentary as we’re watching it, how can that not be at the forefront?”