Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons will miss at least another three weeks with the nerve impingement in his lower back that has kept him sidelined since Feb. 22, the team announced.
Simmons “continues to progress in his rehabilitation. He is receiving daily treatment and is gradually increasing the activities in his strength and conditioning program,” according to the 76ers. However, the All-Star point guard and All-Defensive candidate will not be reevaluated for three more weeks.
Simmons left five minutes into Philadelphia’s Feb. 22 game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He also missed the first game after the All-Star break after feeling tightness in his lower back in practice.
“We don’t believe it’s anything too significant,” Brown told reporters on Feb. 19.
By Feb. 25, the Sixers announced Simmons would be out two weeks before another reevaluation. That has now been extended to April 1, when Philadelphia will have seven games remaining in the regular season. The 76ers are 4-5 since the All-Star break, dropping from fifth to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings. They still own a comfortable eight-game cushion on the seventh seed.
The injury has to be of major concern for a preseason Finals favorite that has already failed to meet expectations. Even if Simmons returns following his next reevaluation, there is reason to believe he would not be 100 percent by the start of the playoffs. Currently, the Sixers are slotted opposite the Boston Celtics in a first-round matchup that could be highly competitive, with or without Simmons.
Beyond general concerns about the chronic nature of back injuries, the prolonged Simmons absence could have greater ramifications on the franchise. His pairing with All-Star center Joel Embiid is a less than ideal one the organization would have to consider following a disappointing playoff showing, to say nothing of reported chemistry issues in the locker room and with the coach.
A less than fully healthy Simmons could be an excuse for the Sixers to keep the status quo entering another season, without fixing the problems that existed prior to the injury. This is admittedly getting ahead of the timeline, but back problems for a 23-year-old have a way of leading to that.
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