The Philadelphia 76ers’ 119-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday really doesn’t matter when thinking about their season right now. After being out for the Sixers’ previous game against the Brooklyn Nets with lower back tightness, Ben Simmons aggravated his back in the first five minutes against Milwaukee and left the game.
Simmons underwent an MRI to examine his back today, and now ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has provided an update that Simmons will need to undergo further testing on Monday and won’t play against the Hawks.
After lower back injury on Saturday, Ben Simmons underwent initial evaluation in Philadelphia today and will undergo further testing tomorrow, league sources tell ESPN. He will be out for Monday's game vs. Atlanta.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 23, 2020
We should find out soon enough exactly what’s wrong with Simmons’ back, but the fact he needs further testing is at least rather ominous for the time being.
Maybe he would have bothered his back at some point in the near future even if he didn’t return against Milwaukee. But given the poor history of the Sixers’ front office and medical staff and how quickly Simmons re-aggravated his injury, it seems pretty clear he was rushed back too early, which is terrible player management to say the least.
The Sixers aren’t built well whatsoever to cope without Simmons for any extended period of time. Their lack of lead ball handling and playmaking is one of their biggest weaknesses and no one can come close to matching what Simmons brings in this department.
This is where the team’s shortcomings to add more ball handling, passing and shot creation in free agency last summer after the departure of JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler hurts them. The same goes for the trade deadline this month. As good as the trade for Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III was as a cheap deal for a couple of useful bench players, they simply didn’t have the assets or moveable players left to make a bigger deal.
The one small thing the Sixers have going for them is that they at least have a few easy games coming up next week. They face the Hawks at home on Monday, the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday, and then return home to face the Knicks. The Sixers’ strength of schedule for the rest of the season is rather weak for the most part, although they do have road games against the Clippers and Lakers on March 1 and 3, respectively.
We’ll have more updates on Simmons’ situation as soon as they’re available, as well as articles to examine what adjustments the Sixers can make in his absence.