As the Philadelphia 76ers attempt to lock in the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2019 NBA Playoffs, reinforcements may be on the way. While Jimmy Butler returned on Wednesday night after missing the previous game due to back tightness, Joel Embiid has remained sidelined. But that’s expected to change on Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Sixers and Bucks meet in a game which could be big for the playoff outlook of both teams. On one side, Milwaukee can lock up the No. 1 seed with a victory, while the Sixers are attempting to keep their distance in the No. 3 spot, as the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers are 2.5 games back.
If Philly knocks off the Bucks and the Celtics proceed to defeat the Pacers on Friday night, it would lock the Sixers into the No. 3 seed, as PlayoffStatus.com details. In order for Brett Brown’s squad to pick up the win, a healthy Embiid is pivotal, and he is expected to return from a three-game absence.
Beyond that, the Sixers are potentially going to be without a number of other players, so let’s look at the latest on their starting lineup and roster outlook against the Bucks. We’ll also evaluate the most recent injury report and Embiid’s updated outlook.
Sixers Injury Report, Joel Embiid’s Status
After returning to action Wednesday, Butler’s status again remains up in the air. While he’s listed as questionable due to back soreness, Embiid has also drawn the same designation on the league’s official injury report. Joining them is a surprise addition in JJ Redick, who’s questionable, along with James Ennis being ruled out.
- Joel Embiid (left knee soreness): Questionable
- Jimmy Butler (back tightness):
- JJ Redick (left quad contusion):
- James Ennis (right quad contusion): Out
- Furkan Korkmaz (right knee surgery): Out
Butler drew the same designation against the Hawks last night, so there’s a chance this is just precautionary. And it’s likely the Sixers are holding out to make a final call on Embiid until closer to tip. Redick’s injury status, paired with Ennis being ruled out isn’t ideal, as the Sixers certainly need depth against this Bucks team.
Sixers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Bucks
*Notates expected starter
UPDATE: Jimmy Butler has been ruled out while JJ Redick will play. Joel Embiid is also active.
C: Joel Embiid*, Jonah Bolden, Boban Marjanovic, Amir Johnson
PF: Mike Scott*
SF: Tobias Harris*, Jonathon Simmons,
SG: JJ Redick*, Shake Milton, Zhaire Smith, Haywood Highsmith
PG: Ben Simmons*, T.J. McConnell
If either Butler or Redick sits out, it’ll be interesting to see who fills the void. Ennis started previously for Butler so there may be an opportunity for rookie Shake Milton or midseason acquisition Jonathon Simmons to hop into the starting five. Simmons hasn’t seen much court time in recent weeks, playing just 16 minutes in the past 10 games.
As for Milton, he didn’t get on the floor against the Hawks, but logged 17 minutes the game before and played in two games back-to-back in late March. If both players do sit, T.J. McConnell could also see increased minutes after playing 17 and 15 in the most recent two games. During that stretch, the 27-year-old guard has averaged 10.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 66.7 percent from the field.