Ben Simmons is officially listed as “questionable” for tonight’s game against Cleveland.
But after shootaround this morning, Robert Covington might have confirmed Simmons’ availability when asked about defensive assignments against the 12-7 Cavaliers.
“Tonight? I’m gonna start on J.R., but we’re going to throw different matchups at Lebron,” Covington said. “We’re gonna start Benny on him. We’re gonna see how the game goes and get a feel for how we want to defend him.”
Simmons usually does not speak after shootaround. He’ll speak pregame when the locker room opens up around 5:30. He was shirtless, shooting free throws when media was granted access to the gym:
Ben Simmons listed as questionable for tonight. He's shooting free throws at the far end of the gym. pic.twitter.com/8g0igisIAD
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) November 27, 2017
For what it’s worth, JJ Redick offered his opinion on Simmons and his inflamed left elbow:
“I didn’t notice anything,” the guard said. “I think he was fine. I think he probably, if it was a playoff game, he probably could have played the other night. I think he’s fine tonight.”
Assuming Simmons is good to go, the concern then is containing Lebron James, who is averaging 28.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game. The Cavs are on a seven game winning streak after starting out 5-7. And yet, the Sixers are -2.5.
It might be a team effort to limit the three-time NBA champion, but the problem then becomes his supporting cast, which has stepped up during the winning streak.
“The problem is that they have four shooters on the floor most of the time, which complicates things,” said Redick. “There’s very few guys you can really help off of. We have to be really good with our schemes, whatever they may be, without letting on too much.”
Redick called Lebron the best NBA player of all time, and was asked why.
“His intelligence. He’s one of, if not the smartest, players to play in the NBA. The way he understands the game, sees the game, it’s all because of how smart he is. He is the definition of a basketball genius.”
James spoke after the Cavs’ session over at the Wells Fargo Center. He didn’t have much to say about Simmons, explaining that the game was between the Sixers and Cavs, not himself and the rookie. He gave props to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz while touching a bit on Joel Embiid:
LeBron James on Joel Embiid's trash talk and on-court antics rubbing some people the wrong way: "Who cares? Who cares? What are you going to do about it? You’re going to fight him? Who cares? People are so sensitive."
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 27, 2017
Fresh quotes on the Jahlil Okafor saga, courtesy of an Adrian Wojnarowski story over at ESPN.com.
The exiled-to-purgatory center has appeared twice this season and still seeks a buyout or trade as he continues to sit on the bench.
Okafor, from the article:
“This is my third year in the NBA, and I know it’s a business. I don’t know if it’s fair or not, but in talking to other people in the NBA, talking to retired players, one thing I’ve heard them say is that what’s going on with me isn’t right and they’ve never seen anything like this before.
“I know it’s business, but in my eyes, I don’t know if it’s good business.”
Markelle Fultz remains out of action as he rehabs his shoulder. Justin Anderson and Nik Stauskas will miss tonight’s game with shins splints and a right ankle sprain, respectively.
Looks like Simmons is good to go –
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) November 27, 2017