Doc Rivers was right. How can the Sixers be expected to beat any team by 30 points without a full roster? COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the team this season with no end in sight.
The head coach was the latest to enter the league’s health and safety protocols, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Assistant coach Dan Burke will take his spot on the bench tonight against the Brooklyn Nets. Rivers joined newcomers Tyler Johnson and Myles Powell as the Omicron variant continues to threaten a pause to the NBA season. The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat had their game postponed on December 29. And the Sixers-Nets contest could be the next one to get pushed back.
Shake Milton and Andre Drummond are questionable for tonight’s matchup in Brooklyn despite clearing COVID-19 protocols. Meanwhile, Danny Green remains out. The Sixers are searching for their third straight win after beating Washington and Toronto. Joel Embiid has carried the load. He’s averaging 33.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game over his last five contests.
Rivers’ absence is just the next obstacle for a team plagued by them this season. And that’s not even getting into the Ben Simmons’ drama. Following the Sixers’ five-point win over an undermanned Toronto team, Rivers got animated and brutally honest about the road victory.
“I will take any win on the road any time, anyway,” Rivers told reporters. “You don’t get to just script the games. Like ‘Guys, tonight, let’s win by 30’. That just doesn’t happen. Not in this game. You just win the game. You take it, and you keep moving on. It’s the regular season.”
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Kyrie Irving Returns to Brooklyn
Kyrie Irving was back at Nets practice on Wednesday after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Speaking for the first time since October 13, the All-Star guard said he respected the organization’s decision to keep him away from the team.
“I really had to sit back and think and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do,” Irving said, via ESPN. “I had to really evaluate things and see it from their perspective, meaning the organization, my teammates.”
New York City instituted a vaccine mandate months ago which makes Irving ineligible for home games in Brooklyn. He will be able to participate in road games, though. Nets head coach Steve Nash intends to “ramp him up” for one to two weeks. He won’t play against Philadelphia. The first time he can potentially return to the court is at Indiana on January 5.
Kevin Durant Expected to Play
Kevin Durant has been out for 12 days after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s expected to play tonight. The last game he played was a 34-point, 11-rebound outburst on December 16 against the Sixers where he single-handedly won the game for the Nets.