You want the good news or the bad news?

The bad news is that Ben Simmons is listed as questionable for tomorrow night’s game against the Pistons with the same lower back tightness that forced him out of Saturday’s win after just eight minutes of play.

“He’s progressing and he did not go through practice today,” said head coach Brett Brown on Monday afternoon. “I believe our club will put out some level of more information later, but he’s progressing.”

“Nobody said he’s definitely not playing, that’s as candid as I can be.”

I saw Simmons having some work done on his back after practice, with a pair of trainers having him do push downs on what looked like a straight lateral bar. One trainer had some kind of monitor on Simmons’ lower back while he slowly did fixed weight reps on the machine.

The good news is that Joel Embiid is on no restriction whatsoever for the Sixers’ first back-to-back of the season. Mike Muscala was also upgraded from “doubtful” to “questionable” after participating fully in Monday’s session, though Brown said he “personally does not think” he’ll have his backup power forward on Tuesday or Wednesday.

“He moved around okay today,” said Brown of Muscala. “I think one of the things we’re all aware of, concerned of, he felt like last year he was in rehab a lot, then would go play, then back to rehab and treatment and go play, and never really got ahead of it. My advice to him, our direction to him, is that ‘you come back when you feel like you’re not going to be chasing.’ I don’t want him chasing. When he comes back he’ll be good to go and we expect that to be good enough to sustain longevity.”

Wilson Chandler remains out with his hamstring strain and was a partial practice participant. He’ll be reevaluated prior to Saturday’s home game with Charlotte. Jerryd Bayless and Zhaire Smith are also on the injury report, out with a left knee sprain and Jones fracture, respectively.

Dario and the slow starts

We had a good conversation with Dario Saric today that began with me tossing him a softball question:

How would you say you’ve played so far this season?

Saric: “I think I did okay. Obviously I always play some kind of bad at the beginning of the season, I can say that. But I think in the next couple of games I should be fine, I should be able to find that rhythm from last season. I think I’ll be fine in the next couple of games.”

Follow up question:

Why do you think you’re getting off to slow starts?

Saric: “I don’t know. It’s so weird, you know? Like always since I started in the NBA I’ve been bad in the preseason and the beginning of the regular season. I don’t know, I try to get in a rhythm, because I’m at home (in Croatia) for most of the summer and the rest of the team is over here playing. Maybe that’s the one reason. But I think it’s not something to worry about. I think I’ll be good in the next couple of games.”

Sarah Todd from the Inquirer then asked Dario if he’s thought about changing his summer routine:

Saric: “Maybe. Maybe in the future I’ll think about that more, maybe I can prepare for the season better. But it’s not like something where I’m playing extremely bad and something where I need to change my whole life. I think I’m just right for now.”

Dario is averaging 11 points this season on 34% shooting, which is a steep drop off from the 15 points he averaged on 45% shooting last season. Of course we’re only three games in, and if you go back and look at his log from the beginning of his second NBA season, you see the same slow start before he started hitting double digit point totals:

It takes him 5-6 games to get going. And last year he began the season on the bench before getting back into the starting lineup after Markelle Fultz went on the shelf.

I’m sure he’ll be back to normal soon.

We goin’ back to back

The Sixers only play 9 back-to-backs this year, down from 14 last year.

One of the reasons that number was so high last season is because the funky London trip smushed together other portions of the schedule and forced more back-to-backs just to get the Sixers to the finish line by April 11th.

This year, as Shams pointed out over the summer, the number of B2Bs is down across the league:

I asked Brett Brown if the lower number of back-to-backs helps, or if it ends up being a wash during an 82-game schedule:

“I think in general back to backs are a little overrated. We all come in and say the same thing, in that ‘Orlando played the night before, let’s start out great because they’re going to get tired.’ I don’t, I mean I see it a little bit but not to the level that others do. Maybe in that regard it’s an advantage. I also see – and I’d love to have somebody do the math on this – I think that teams that play the night before start games in a rhythm. You know, they just got done playing 18 hours earlier, 24 hours earlier, so I’m not quite sure how to read it. I think if you had your druthers you’d choose rest and you wouldn’t play back to backs. But having said that I think there’s a little bit of those situations being overrated.”

Can someone do the math on that? I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

Saric’s opinion on the same topic:

“I think sometimes in the middle of the season and end of the season of course you feel it a bit more, some shots where you feel like you have the energy to score, maybe you’re tired from those back to backs and shots are (falling short). But we’re professionals and it’s not a big problem for the team.”

Fultz also spoke today, but I’m gonna hold one or two of those quotes for tomorrow, because the team is gonna be on the road all week and probably won’t practice again until Friday.

We going baaaaack to back: