The Sixers will be getting two starters back tonight versus Detroit. Unfortunately, one of them isn’t named Ben Simmons.
Philadelphia announced that both Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson have been cleared to return to the lineup for Thursday night’s home game. The Sixers will return to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since going 1-3 on a lengthy West Coast road trip.
Embiid will be making his first start since suffering a left shoulder sprain on Feb. 26 while Richardson returns from a concussion that has kept him out since March 1. Both players are expected to see their usual minutes, although the team is likely to be a little more cautious with Embiid.
“It’s good for them to be back,” head coach Brett Brown said. “We need both of those guys.”
Embiid fresh off his third straight All-Star nod and comes in averaging 23.3 points and 11.8 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per game. The 7-footer has been shouldering the load as the Sixers try to filter the offense through him with Ben Simmons out. Richardson is averaging 13.9 points and 3.1 assists in 30.7 minutes per game in his first season in Philadelphia. He has provided a lot of the spark that went missing when Jimmy Butler left, too.
Ben Simmons Could Miss Three Additional Weeks
The Sixers have grown accustomed to playing basketball without Ben Simmons. That’s a good thing because he may be out for three more weeks as he continues to deal with a pinched nerve in his back.
The starting point guard went down on Feb. 22 and there haven’t been many updates or timelines about his status. Simmons’ injury has been termed a “nerve impingement” and the Sixers were waiting for the swelling to go down in his lower back. The All-Star continues to “receive daily treatment and is gradually increasing the activities in his strength and conditioning program,” according to a statement from the Sixers.
If three weeks is the new timetable, then Simmons would be re-evaluated on April 1. The triple-double machine had been averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds in 35.7 minutes per game.
“When there is a vacuum, as there is right now with Ben, something will happen,” Brown said back on Feb. 25, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Somebody will step up. I’m trying to see the world through those eyes, and I really do — it’s not even creative coach speak. I see it as an opportunity, and I think I need to see it that way.”
Shake Milton will continue to serve as the starting point guard in Simmons’ absence. He has been a revelation and, as Brown alluded to, has been the one to step up. He is averaging 21.3 points per game in March, including a career-high 39 points on March 1 against the Clippers.
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