Injury Bug May Have Bitten Another Member of Sixers

PJ Tucker, Sixers

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 and Georges Niang #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers speak during the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Wells Fargo Center on November 4, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia 76ers just cannot catch a break when it comes to the health of the current roster. Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey are each out with foot injuries and are not expected to be back in the near future. Matisse Thybulle has also been limited due to an ankle injury in recent games and missed the previous matchup with the Magic. The injury bug may have claimed another victory as P.J. Tucker was forced to leave the matchup against Orlando with what was later revealed to be an ankle injury.

What is the Injury?

Doc Rivers revealed he was dealing with the injury when speaking to the media following the game. When asked about Tucker he stated, “PJ, I don’t know what it was, I think it was his ankle or something, couldn’t go so we didn’t have anybody to guard (Paolo) Banchero anymore.” Rivers was then asked a follow-up question about the injury and stated, “I don’t know what it was, to be honest. I just knew they told me when he went out. He told me he had to come out and so I haven’t checked, but we’ll see what’s going on,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.

Tucker was subbed out of the victory in the Magic with 3:47 remaining in the third quarter and did not return. He ended the matchup with five points and an assist while shooting 0-3 from the field, with his greatest impact coming on the defensive end.

This is not the first time Tucker has had to take some extended time in the locker room. During the recent matchup with the Timberwolves, the veteran was unable to start the second half as he was being worked on by the trainers. Tucker managed to return to the floor and finish the game for the Sixers. Rivers revealed he was not sure what the injury was following the game and jokingly stated about the string of injuries, “It feels like the MASH unit, honestly. I was drawing up the play and I noticed Tuck wasn’t in the huddle; he was still in the back. So we’ll find out,” per Noah Levick of NBCSports.

Tucker’s Scoring Struggles

A noteworthy storyline that has made its way around social media has been Tucker’s lack of scoring on the season. Despite averaging 29.4 minutes per game on the floor, the veteran is producing just 3.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. While the veteran has never been a guy whose greatest impact was felt in the box score, going scoreless in five of the last six matchups has not been ideal.

The 37-year-old was the prized addition of the offseason with the expectation that his postseason experience, leadership, and high basketball IQ would be beneficial to the team. Even without lighting up the stat sheet, there have been signs of this. Tucker did an excellent job breaking the Magic’s zone defense in the previous matchup by finding holes in it and swinging passes around. He also has been tasked with some of the toughest defensive assignments of anyone in the NBA so far this season and mostly held his own.

However, Tucker has not looked 100% like the player it was hoped. The Sixers are likely hopeful that this bothersome ankle injury is the root of this as the alternative would likely be father time catching up with him. He may not have ever been known for his offensive ability but his 3.3 field goal attempts and 1.6 three-point attempts per game are nearly half of his career average. The veteran’s seeming disinterest in scoring has been notable. The off-ball screens and other savvy moves to positively impact the Sixers’ offense have been helpful, but he has shot just 4-11 in the restricted area and 8-18 from within eight feet of the basket on the season.

Tucker has never been one to sit out games or leave his teammates out to dry. Especially considering the other string of injuries on the roster it is fair to assume he has been playing through some pain for the benefit of the team. While this is honorable, the reason for bringing Tucker in was for the impact he is expected to have in the postseason. Even if it may decrease the team’s chances of winning in the short term, it would be best to ensure his mind and body are right before the postseason. Hopefully, there is some more clarity on the injury and Tucker is not dealing with anything serious. Ensuring that he is healthy now rather than letting any injury linger would be the most beneficial decision for Philadelphia moving forward.

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