With the return of Joel Embiid from a two-game suspension, the Philadelphia 76ers were nearly full strength against the Utah Jazz. However, it didn’t last long.
Star point guard Ben Simmons headed to the locker room in the second quarter against the Jazz with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. He received help from trainers before retreating into the locker room.
Simmons was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game.
It was revealed by multiple sources that Simmons suffered a minor sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder and he will be reevaluated on Thursday.
Since missing his entire first season with a foot injury, Simmons has been one of the healthiest players in the league. He played 81 games his “rookie” season and then 79 a year ago.
Simmons is averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists this season and leads the league with 3.33 steals per game. He had just 2 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists before exiting against the Jazz.
Who Replaces Ben Simmons for Sixers
With Simmons on the mend, Raul Neto — who is making his return to Utah where he spent his first four NBA seasons — will get more run. He’s averaged just under 6 minutes per game this season, but has played well.
Neto was looking forward to playing in front of his former fanbase.
“Of course, I’ve been here four years, there’s emotion,” Neto told the Philadelphia Inquirer during shootaround. “It’s an emotional game for me, but I think it’s just another game.
“Of course, I have friends on the other side. But when I step on the court, it’s to be focused to help Philadelphia get the win.”
There’s also a chance Trey Burke could get his first run of the season after not seeing any action. Shake Milton also would be in the mix, but is nursing a knee injury he sustained early in the season.
Sixers Welcome Joel Embiid Back to Lineup
The Sixers split their two games without Embiid, who was serving a two-game suspension for fighting with Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 31.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he noticed a big difference in practice with Embiid back on the floor.
“There’s a presence,” Brown said. “You look forward to having Joel back in this mix.”
In his absence, veteran big man Al Horford excelled, registering 57 points, 10 boards, 11 dimes, and three blocks against the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns.
Brown is still trying to find a way to use both big men most effectively, but Horford — who can impact a game without a hefty stat line — is OK taking a backseat to the Sixers franchise centerpiece.
“I honestly think it’s kind of early in the season,” Horford said. “I think we’re all trying to figure one another out. But it all depends also on how coach [Brett Brown] is calling and managing the game. A lot of times when Joe is out there, we try to feed him the ball, get him the ball.”
The Sixers are currently on a Western Conference swing, which wraps up with the Denver Nuggets on Friday. They return home to Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 10 to take on the Hornets.
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