Joel Embiid returned Wednesday night after serving a two-game suspension for his scuffle with Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns on Oct. 30, a boost for Philadelphia's lineup. But now Ben Simmons will likely miss three games with a Grade 1 AC joint sprain in his right shoulder, according to multiple reports on Thursday. Simmons suffered the injury in Wednesday's 106-104 loss at Utah.
Simmons was hurt when he hit the chest of Jazz forward Royce O'Neale on a post-up move in the first half and didn't return.
"I hope he's going to be all right," Sixers teammate Tobias Harris said after the game. "I checked him after the game. He said he's going to be OK.
"Hopefully it's nothing too crazy. Hopefully he will be OK for next game. Until then, we will have to have the next man up mentality and be ready."
Sixers coach Brett Brown said the team missed Simmons' defensive presence more than his offense, which was boosted by Embiid's return. Embiid finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds against the Jazz but couldn't prevent Philadelphia's second straight loss.
"Getting suspended is not great for me, or for the team, so it's never going to happen again," Embiid said.
The Nuggets are dealing with their own health issues, which came in a win over Miami on Tuesday night. Guard Gary Harris didn't play in the second half because of an ankle injury suffered in the first half, and Paul Millsap suffered a cut on his forehead when he was knocked into Justise Winslow early in the third quarter.
Trainers stopped the bleeding, but after hitting two free throws Millsap left the game and didn't return. Harris and Millsap took part in practice Thursday, and coach Michael Malone said both players should be back in the lineup against Philadelphia.
Friday's game will pit two of the best young big men in the NBA in Embiid and Denver's Nikola Jokic. Embiid showed his worth with a big game against the Jazz but Jokic has yet to find a groove eight games into this season.
He is considered one of the best passers in the league -- not just among big men -- and at times he looks for teammates more than his own shot. He's putting up an average of 12.4, and in Denver's two losses he attempted a total of 14.
It's a subject that Malone gets asked about often, and the coach has grown weary of addressing his best player's aggressiveness.
"This is getting a little ridiculous," he told reporters after Thursday's practice.
Although his shots are down, Jokic is still producing. He is averaging 9.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists and has two triple-doubles.
One reason Jokic tends to look for teammates more than his own shot is Denver's deep roster. Five players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by guard Jamal Murray at 18.9 a game, and the Nuggets can get big nights from different areas.
Tuesday night Will Barton returned from a two-game absence due to a sore toe to score 15 points and grab 10 rebounds.
--Field Level Media