Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press
Rivers added that he believes Simmons has the flu and made clear that his illness is unrelated to COVID-19. He also noted that center Joel Embiid, who missed Monday’s game against the Utah Jazz with back tightness, will return to the lineup.
Simmons was listed on the pregame injury report as questionable with an illness before Rivers shared the news.
The 24-year-old has averaged 15.2 points, 8.0 assists and 8.3 rebounds for the 18-10 76ers, who sit first in the Eastern Conference. The two-time All-Star, who made his first All-NBA team last year, is playing in his fourth NBA season.
His on-court progress has been hindered by injuries in the past, most notably a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot that forced him to miss the entire 2016-17 season.
Simmons returned in 2017-18 and won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, finishing with 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. He made his first All-Star team during the 2018-19 season.
The 2019-20 season was a frustrating one for the LSU product and the 76ers. He missed time with a nerve impingement in his lower back in addition to a knee injury that required surgery, which forced him to miss the team’s four-game first-round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics. Overall, he only played in four of the 76ers’ final 18 games in 2020.
However, Simmons and the 76ers caught fire to start 2020-21, jumping out to lead an Eastern Conference marred by parity and struggling teams failing to take off in the early going. He did miss a pair of games on January 9 and 11 due to a knee injury, but he was able to return to the lineup on Jan. 12.
Simmons did miss time with left calf tightness on Thursday, Feb. 4, but he returned two days later against the Brooklyn Nets. He’s coming off a dominant 42-point, 12-assist, nine-rebound outing against the Utah Jazz, who own the league’s best record.
The 76ers have numerous options to step up, including Tyrese Maxey, Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton. Korkmaz took Simmons’ spot in the starting lineup during the team’s 121-105 loss to the Blazers, posting 13 points and five rebounds.
However, Matisse Thybulle will get the call to the starting five Wednesday. The second-year pro has averaged just 3.2 points in 17.2 minutes per game but has shone on the defensive end, ranking second on the team in defensive rating leading into Wednesday, per Basketball Reference.