The Philadelphia 76ers are gearing up to start the second half on Thursday when they take on the Chicago Bulls on the road. However, they are grappling with many issues related to the league’s health and safety protocols when it comes to their star duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
The two had to miss Sunday’s All-Star game in Atlanta due to tracing with a barber who tested positive for COVID after he cut his hair before heading to Atlanta for the holidays.
As the second half begins, the Sixers rank third in ESPN’s latest edition of their power rankings:
The Sixers know what they’re going to get from Joel Embiid, who is arguably the best center in the NBA, and he’s certainly their most dominant low-post presence. But Simmons has recently increased his level of aggression on the offensive side and he has made a notable difference. The most astonishing display of this was against the Utah Jazz last month, in a game in which Embiid did not play and Simmons scored a career-high 42 points. But it has also happened a lot when Embiid has shared the court with him in recent games. And when Simmons is this aggressive, using his unique combination of size and strength to attack defense, Philadelphia becomes a different team. Embiid deserves the most attention. But Simmons’ offense could be what ultimately determines how high Philadelphia’s roof is.
The Sixers start the second half on the road against the Bulls on Thursday and then the Washington Wizards on Friday as the schedule begins to get more compact and games come at an even faster pace.
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