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FutureStarrDoc Rivers' Injury Update on Tobias Harris and PJ Tucker Isn't Promising
On Saturday night, the Sixers managed to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 92-93, but injuries to Tobias Harris and PJ Tucker added a layer of complexity. Now Doc Rivers and his coaches must devise a strategy for Game 3 against Miami Heat without Joel Embiid on Monday.
Doc Rivers, head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, provided an injury update on Tobias Harris after Saturday's win against Milwaukee Bucks, noting that he isn't expected to play Monday against Indiana Pacers. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Harris left early with a left calf injury suffered in the first half.
Harris is an important role player for the Sixers, averaging 15.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season. Additionally, he's shooting 50.1 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from long range; making him an attractive fantasy option for owners of fantasy basketball teams.
The Sixers have the chance to end the longest winning streak by any NBA team in history, but that will require all of their roster members being healthy. While missing Harris (left calf), Tyrese Maxey (groin) and Joel Embiid (foot soreness) against Milwaukee, the Sixers still managed a comeback win against the team with the best record in the league despite missing three key players: Tyrese Maxey (groin), Harris (left calf) and Tyrese Maxey (groin), Tyrese Maxey (groin) and Joel Embiid (foot soreness).
For the Sixers, who boast a 40-22 record and sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, this victory is significant. Still, they face an arduous road trip ahead with games against Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks.
With Harris out, the Sixers must rely on Georges Niang and Jalen McDaniels to carry the load. This means they'll need to make adjustments on defense as well.
This isn't a dire situation for the Sixers, as they possess some promising young talent in both their frontcourt and bench spots. Additionally, they remain an attractive streaming option for NBA owners.
Harris is unlikely to play Monday against the Pacers and should be cleared off the injury report for Friday's game against Utah Jazz. With plenty of free agent targets expected this summer, it could be that the Sixers seek to free up cap space by trading Harris.
The Sixers have a demanding schedule ahead, but they're hoping that Harris can stay healthy enough for the playoffs. If so, he will be an invaluable asset to their team.
Injuries have been a major concern in the Philadelphia 76ers' first month of the season. Aside from losing PJ Tucker (Back) and Tyrese Maxey (Right Foot) to long-term injuries, they also lost Joel Embiid (Left Knee) for several games, and De'Anthony Melton missed one game due to an illness other than COVID.
The Sixers appear to be close to full strength after weeks of limited action, but they could still miss a key player against the Oklahoma City Thunder on New Year's Eve. According to their official injury report, James Harden and PJ Tucker remain questionable due to injury management.
For the 76ers, it's a major setback, particularly since they were able to overcome it last week against the New Orleans Pelicans. Fortunately, Rivers told reporters he has no concerns with regards to his team's situation and they remain on track for competition against the top-ranked team in the East on New Year's Eve.
As of now, the Sixers appear likely to have Harris back in their lineup after listing him as probable ahead of Monday's game against the Pistons. Although he's only played in three games so far this season, Harris' production has been impressive: 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds on 46.7 percent shooting with an efficient 46.8 percent free throw percentage.
He's been a reliable catch-and-shoot option this year, making 36.7 percent of his three-point attempts and shooting an impressive 66.6 percent from beyond the arc so far. That bodes well for fantasy owners as Harris remains a viable option across most formats.
While he's unlikely to score many points this season, he should remain a reliable source of points and rebounds for the Sixers. Furthermore, his usage rate should increase as they look to replace Harden and Maxey with younger, more versatile talent.
He should have no trouble regaining his starting job at some point, but if he wants to remain a viable fantasy asset for the 76ers, they'll need him to find a way to score in this offense. With them currently sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with just a three-game lead over Boston, they should have plenty of time to find either another starter for Harris or perhaps choose someone more productive for their lineup.
Injury issues have been a major concern for the 76ers this season, as they have been without key players such as Brandon Jennings, Jabari Parker and Marshall Plumlee for two months. Despite these setbacks, however, the team has maintained its high level of play.
One key injury to monitor is center Dewayne Dedmon's left hip tightness. Although he will miss Saturday's game against the Boston Celtics due to this injury, it does not appear to be a serious one.
However, he needs some time off to work on his hip. In the meantime, Paul Reed and Montrezl Harrell remain backup centers for the Sixers.
Dedmon's return to the Sixers this season remains uncertain, with their likely focus being on his hip tightness. If Dedmon is healthy and ready to play again, it could signal the end of a difficult journey for him that has lasted since February.
Meanwhile, Harris is struggling with back issues and it remains uncertain if he'll be available to play Monday against the Indiana Pacers. After being seen in apparent pain after their loss to the Bucks, coach Doc Rivers wasn't sure whether or not he will have him available on Monday.
On top of that, PJ Tucker is also dealing with back issues and it remains uncertain if he'll be available to come off the bench this week. With both Harris and Tucker essential to the 76ers' playoff hopes, it's worth keeping an eye on whether or not they are available this week.
If their starting lineup cannot be filled, the Sixers could potentially turn to Josh McDaniels and Georges Niang. Although neither player has any NBA Finals experience, they do play with high energy levels and shoot three-pointers at an impressive rate.
The Sixers are still a long way from being a championship-winning team, but they have made great strides this year to improve their depth. Unfortunately, that depth is not enough to compete against the East's top teams; thus, it's essential for the 76ers to make some changes.
Matisse Thybulle was forced to withdraw from Friday night's game against the Thunder with an ankle injury, likely keeping him out for the remainder of preseason. While Thybulle remains a reliable starter off the bench for Philadelphia, his condition does not appear promising.
Thybulle has had a solid season, yet his offensive potential remains limited. At 32.3 percent shooting from three, which will be difficult to improve upon over the course of four NBA seasons, Thybulle still lacks the defensive improvement necessary to earn consistent minutes in Doc Rivers' system. Nonetheless, Thybulle remains an intriguing prospect to watch this season.
Since returning from COVID protocols, Thybulle has averaged 2.1 steals and one block per game in 19.0 minutes of action. That marks an improvement over his season-ending average of 2.7 steals and 1.5 blocks per-36 minutes last season; however, it may not be enough to propel him into an impact player for fantasy managers in the coming weeks.
But Thybulle remains a viable option as a switch defender on Harden-led bench units. Rivers has previously stated that he's not afraid to put players on defense who aren't great shooters, and if Thybulle can demonstrate his defensive prowess on a consistent basis it would be an encouraging sign for his future with the Sixers.
If the Sixers can help him improve those weaknesses over the next couple of years, Thybulle could emerge as an impressive fantasy starter or two. That won't be easy, but if he can demonstrate both defensive ability and some offense this season, it will be worth giving him the chance to join their rotation for this season.
Thybulle has been an impressive addition to the Sixers rotation, but his position isn't assured and it may be time for him to retire if he cannot prove himself at this time. With Maxey and Harris close to returning, the Sixers need more depth from their lineups moving forward.