Doc Rivers provides crucial medical update on pair of Sixers role players
One major priority for NBA teams during training camp and preseason is to stay healthy. Unfortunately, the injury bug was unavoidable for the Philadelphia 76ers. But despite multiple players getting banged up in recent weeks, it looks like the Sixers should have most of their key players ready for their season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Following practice on Sunday, Sixers coach Doc Rivers provided a handful of medical updates. Some players continue to trend in the right direction, while one could be sidelined for an extended period.
Defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle missed the majority of the preseason due to right shoulder soreness but is close to becoming a full participant in practice.
“Matisse, I want to say made it through (practice) without coming out much other than us pulling him out,” said Rivers. During his post-practice availability, Thybulle mentioned the plan was always for him to return for the season opener.
One player who did not receive a positive update was Shake Milton. He suffered a sprained ankle in practice after stepping on Andre Drummond’s foot and is nowhere near close to making his return to the court.
“I don’t know what his status is, other than I know he’s out. Shake (Milton) is nowhere near playing yet,” added Rivers.
Not having Milton is a tough loss for the Sixers as they get ready for the regular season. He was one of the common standouts in training camp and a candidate to be plugged into the starting lineup. Depending on what Ben Simmons’ status is moving forward, the Sixers’ point guard depth might be non-existent.
With Milton on the shelf for the foreseeable future, there are now more minutes up for grabs in Rivers’ rotation. This circumstance could open the door for Isaiah Joe to get playing time on a nightly basis after an impressive showing in the preseason. It will also put a lot of pressure on Tyrese Maxey, as he is now the only active point guard on the roster.
Thybulle looking like he will be good to go come Wednesday is great news for the Sixers. The second unit’s play was a big takeaway from the preseason, and adding his defensive skills to the mix will only raise the group’s ceiling.
Implementing a San Antonio Spurs-esque offensive system this season might make the loss of Milton easier to deal with. The Sixers’ offense has thrived and created countless open shots by emphasizing ball movement. As long as the team remains fully committed to that style of play, it should allow Joel Embiid and company to get by with one less ballhandler.
It is crucial for teams to come out of the gate strong, especially ones that view themselves as title contenders. Based on Rivers’ updates Sunday, the Sixers will be getting some much-needed reinforcements for when the real action kicks off.