Doc Rivers still unsure if Ben Simmons will play in Philadelphia 76ers’ opener
Written by Luck on October 18, 2021
CAMDEN, N.J. — Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers said he’s going to “wait and see and watch” Ben Simmons to decide whether he will play in the season opener Wednesday in New Orleans against the Pelicans.
“Just learning the new stuff, conditioning, timing, rhythm,” Rivers said, when asked what specifically he will be looking at from Simmons, after Monday’s practice at the team’s facility.
“We’ve been together for three weeks, so we’ve established a good rhythm. So the more he’s been in, the more he does, especially when we’re working on our offensive stuff earlier, because we’ve built from last year but we tweaked a lot of stuff. But it’s easy to pick up — especially for him.”
Rivers said Simmons, who was pictured in a blue jersey Sunday during his first practice signifying he worked with the second team, spent time with both the first and second groups during Monday’s practice, and was one of six players wearing white — signifying the first team — when the media was let in for the final few minutes.
Simmons immediately left the court after practice ended, and declined to address the media for a second straight day. The team said Simmons will speak to the media on Tuesday before leaving for New Orleans.
When asked about the chemistry around the group, Rivers said he’s happy with where it is now, and that it will continue to improve.
“It’ll grow,” Rivers said. “It’ll come back. I’m not that concerned, right now, with it. They are interchanging, it’s coming, and it just takes time.
“Chemistry is huge, and I think overall our chemistry is phenomenal right now and we want to keep it going.”
Simmons spent the first two weeks of training camp at home and away from his teammates, hoping that would force the team to trade him away as he requested they do so this summer. Last Monday, however, Simmons returned to the team, taking his initial COVID-19 test in the middle of last Monday’s game between the 76ers and Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
He then spent several days going through the league’s re-entry protocols before practicing the past two days.
After Philadelphia’s opener in New Orleans, the team returns home for a showdown with the Nets on ESPN Friday night, followed by games in Oklahoma City Sunday and New York Tuesday.
Rivers said that Shake Milton, who has a sprained right ankle, is unlikely to play Wednesday in New Orleans, which could potentially mean the Sixers are down multiple guards against the Pelicans.
And while Rivers said the team has made some slight tweaks to its offense without Simmons, veteran guard Danny Green said that it won’t take the star guard much time to catch back up after his time away.
“It’s not that difficult,” Green said. “We’ve only had two, three weeks without him, three weeks maybe? Some of these guys have been playing with him for years. So our offense hasn’t changed a bunch.
“It’s [still] predicated around those guys, Ben, Tobias, Joel, so he just has to fit right in whenever he’s ready.”