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Tobias Harris ruled OUT vs. Raptors with non-COVID illness

Tobias Harris has played some great ball vs. Toronto in a Sixers uniform. But at least Joel Embiid and James Harden are not on the injury report.

Dallas Mavericks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers (50-26) gear up to host the Toronto Raptors (38-38) this evening. And the best news of all is that neither Joel Embiid nor James Harden have appeared on the team’s official injury report today.

Embiid and Harden’s respective injury issues have probably not magically resolved. Fans know there’s no chance that Embiid would have missed his big MVP showdown vs. Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets last Monday if he’d been anywhere close to fine. So the fact that the big fella couldn’t suit up with his lingering calf issue probably means there’s at least some remnant tightness still lingering. The team may want to keep a watchful eye on that down the stretch run here. The playoffs are just two weeks away.

The Process looked a little rusty in the first half vs. the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, but really found his stride down the stretch, closing the door on Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving with some stellar two-way play.

As for James Harden, he recently admitted his Achilles tendon is still a problem for him and he’s not sure that that issue will fully resolve.

But with neither player on the injury report, perhaps it’s at least a sign they’re feeling substantially better than they were a week ago.

Update: Tobias Harris has been ruled OUT ahead of this match with non-COVID illness.

So that leaves the team’s stalwart power forward Tobias Harris as the lone member of the team ruled out ahead of the home game vs. the Toronto Raptors.

(Side bar: while the NBA pitted the Sixers up against the Brooklyn Nets - because of the Ben Simmons for James Harden trade - and the Denver Nuggets - because of the MVP battle - during “rivalry week” last January, it’s really the Celtics and Raptors that the Sixers have had multiple playoff battles against, qualifying as the more traditional rivalries.)

This season, the Tennessee product has averaged 15 points 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and one steal, with impressive 50-39.5-87.4 shooting splits, so that’s an key loss for Doc Rivers’ rotation.

Nick Nurse’s crew likes to trot out some smallish lineups that Harris has had success punishing on switches offensively. And in the playoffs one year ago, he was instrumental defensively, rising to the challenge of slowing down an All-Star caliber Pascal Siakam.

The Islip, New York native has averaged 17.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.4 dimes in 14 total games against Toronto since he became a member of the Sixers.

With showdowns vs. the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics on deck, this also represents one of the Sixers last chances to enjoy being favorites for perhaps a week.

With Harris ruled out, we’d expect more minutes for Jalen McDaniels, Georges Niang and possibly Danuel House Jr. I would have said Shake Milton, but he was a surprise healthy scratch last contest. Not the best sign for Milton’s playoff rotation hopes, which could also have implications for his upcoming 2023 free agency.

But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves now. Let’s hope Tobias, who has basically been an ironman for the Sixers, knock so much wood, can suit up by next game in Milwaukee.

The Sixers need a couple more wins down the stretch here to lock up the three seed, if in fact they want it. Julius Randle’s injury makes a possible fourth seed and matchup with the New York Knicks look less significantly less daunting than it might have just days ago.

If Doc Rivers is as worried about Harden’s Achilles as he says, they’d be wise to buy him as many rest games as possible through the final six.

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