The Philadelphia 76ers will likely have both Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons back in the lineup Friday after the two missed some time the last few days. Butler missed Tuesday’s win over the Cavaliers due to rest, while Simmons skipped practice Thursday due to an upper respiratory infection.
RotoWire reports that Simmons “expects to play” against the Sacramento Kings (7 p.m. EST, NBC Sports Local), though “his status could change based on how he’s feeling Friday morning.”
Meanwhile, Butler is off the injury report and should be “ready to roll.”
UPDATE: The Sixers posted a photo on Twitter of both arriving at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, tweeting the hashtag #HereTheyCome.
He limped off the court in Sunday’s win over the Pacers, holding his foot on the bench.
Brett Brown couldn’t discern what was wrong.
“Jimmy took his shoe off, there was something going on with his foot,” the coach said. “I don’t know what it was. I will learn more about that.”
Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that the “discomfort” felt in Butler’s foot was not the sole reason for the 1-game absence.
Brett Brown said after practice Monday that Butler’s absence is not related to the “discomfort” he felt in his foot at the end of the win vs. Indiana.
Giving Butler off Tuesday gives the veteran swingman extra time. With the team not playing again until Friday against the Kings, Butler will get four days of rest.
In fact, it seems Brown’s plan is to find days off for most of his rotation down the stretch, as the Sixers are fourth in the Eastern Conference.
“I suspect JJ [Redick] will get one coming up soon,” Brown said. “Ben [Simmons] is incredibly reliable, durable and I think we got to pay attention as much to him as some of the obvious ones we just talked about. I think none of us should be surprised if these guys miss some games.”
Hudrick further noted that star center Joel Embiid will likely sit another game after returning from his knee injury.
Sixers Outlook Tonight Vs. Kings
Brown has to balance out scheduling these rest dates with gaining as high of a seed as possible for the upcoming postseason.
According to Playoff Status, the Sixers possesses a 53 percent chance at clinching the No. 3 seed, as they trail the Pacers by just a half-game. That also breaks down to 30 percent for the 4-seed and 16 percent for the 5-seed.
ESPN’s BPI also predicts a No. 3 seed, as it sees Philadelphia finishing with a 52-30 record. It also gives the Sixers a 1.8 percent chance at winning it all.
Tonight’s game against the Kings could earn Philadelphia the 3-seed for good. Per Playoff Status, a Sixers win gives them about 60 percent odds at surpassing the Pacers for the 3-seed. Meanwhile, Indiana has to play the Nuggets, who are No. 2 in the Western Conference.
Fortunately, Brown and his team have the flexibility to rest some players, as they face one of the easier remaining schedules in the East according to Playoff Status. Outside of 3 games against Eastern-leading Milwaukee, the Sixers have better than 50 percent odds in each of their other 11 remaining games.
That includes 10 games against teams with a sub-.500 record. The Sixers get 2 games against the Bulls and Hawks.
Basically, Brown can afford to tinker with his lineup in order to be 100 percent for an NBA Finals run.