The NBA season has been on “pause” for almost three full months now, and while a return date has been set for July 30th, that still gives teams and players 30+ more days of downtime. No basketball has been brutal, especially during a time where everyone is locked down at home itching for any form of sports content. However, specifically, when it comes to the Philadelphia 76ers, there are some hidden benefits to this extended break leading up to the playoffs.
Ben Simmons’ Back
Prior to the NBA’s suspension, there was a very real possibility that Ben Simmons wasn’t going to be available at all for the 2020 postseason. After injuring his back sometime around the All-Star break, Simmons had missed the last eight games headed into the hiatus. With reports coming out that it was nerve-related, the potential for Simmons to not be ready by May was all too likely.
However, Simmons has now had 3 full months to relax and recover. Last time we heard from general manager Elton Brand, it was reported that Simmons was 100% healthy and expected to be available this summer. Simmons has since posted pictures of himself working out and training, furthering the belief that he should be perfectly fine for the playoffs.
Had this hiatus not happened, it could’ve been a very short postseason run for the Sixers without their All-Star point guard.
Al Horford’s Rhythm
It’s no secret that Al Horford has been struggling this season. His points per game, FG%, and 3P% are all noticeably down from last year. While some have attributed that to simple regression (myself included), there’s a slim chance that maybe Horford just needed some time off to reset. It’s not an absurd statement to make that Horford might be a tad rundown currently (seeing as he hasn’t played fewer than 60 games in a season since 2013).
Some time off to work on his shot, his quickness, and his health might allow Horford to get back to his All-Star form come July 30th.
While Simmons’ injury was easily the most concerning, there were still a handful of other Sixers players who were dealing with their own respective nagging injuries.
Josh Richardson had hamstring issues, Joel Embiid underwent hand surgery back in the winter, and Tobias Harris was seemingly playing through some sort of knee pain for the majority of the year. Having this extended period of downtime to focus solely on rehabilitation and re-strengthening previously injured body parts should in theory work wonders for this routinely beat up Sixers squad.
Brett Brown’s Game Plan
Finally, such a drawn out break should also give head coach Brett Brown some time to think about his game plan for this year’s playoffs. The rotation has been a bit of a mess for the majority of the regular season up to this point, and having some time to step away and re-think things could prove pivotal later this summer.
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