|Banged-up Sixers, Magic set for bubble battle|
The Philadelphia 76ers' hopes of a deep playoff run are in jeopardy.
All-Star Ben Simmons limped to the locker room with a knee injury during Wednesday's win over the Washington Wizards, and the diagnosis is a partially dislocated left kneecap. Simmons will remain out indefinitely.
He won't play when the host Sixers (41-27) look for their third straight victory against the Orlando Magic on Friday at the NBA bubble near Orlando. It's unclear if Simmons will be sidelined for the entire postseason.
Simmons was injured in the third quarter of what turned out to be a 107-98 win over the Wizards. X-rays and a magnetic resonance imaging test both initially came back negative.
"Some of the information is fluid," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "It's just that the stuff is still being evaluated."
Joel Embiid carried the Sixers over the Wizards with 30 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots.
"He just grabbed the gym, grabbed the game," Brown said of Embiid. "He's passing out of the double team at a highly efficient rate."
The Sixers have struggled on both ends of the court in the three games despite holding a 2-1 record. They allowed more than 40 points in the fourth quarter in a loss to the Indiana Pacers and then again in a win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Indiana's T.J. Warren exploded for a career-high 53 points.
"We've started the three games very inconsistent," Brown said. "We do some good things offensively, defensively and then you see some head-scratching stuff. ... We're trending in the right direction, just not as quickly as I'd like."
Like the Sixers, the Magic are also dealing with an injury to a key player -- Aaron Gordon.
In Wednesday's 109-99 loss to the defending champion Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry committed a hard foul on Gordon, who left the game in the third quarter with left hamstring tightness.
Gordon's injury doesn't appear to be a long-term issue, according to reports, though he's expected to sit out against the Sixers.
"It would be a huge hit for us," Magic head coach Steve Clifford said if the injury keeps Gordon sidelined for awhile.
The team is already without forward Jonathan Isaac after he tore his ACL last week.
Evan Fournier scored 15 points for the Magic, who fell to 32-37 but remain as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, a half-game behind the Brooklyn Nets.
"They're obviously champions," Fournier said of the Raptors. "Fouls are part of basketball. Was (the foul on Gordon) nice? No. But who cares? I mean, it was a foul. It was called flagrant one. There's just not much to say."
Aside from Gordon, the Magic's offense sputtered against Toronto's stifling defense. They managed only 35 points in the first half and trailed by 20. The 35 points were a season low for points in a half.
There's some bright news on the injury front, however, as Michael Carter-Williams (tendon in left foot) is likely to be available.
The Magic are very close to officially clinching a playoff berth. One Magic victory or a loss by the Wizards will seal the playoff spot, as both teams have four games remaining.
--Field Level Media