Diplomatic Doc Rivers Thinks Denver Game Shouldn’t Have Been Played

Photo Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Good news, Sixers fans.

Joel Embiid should be ready for Wednesday night’s Boston tilt, according to head coach Doc Rivers.

“I do expect him to go,” Rivers said Tuesday. “He was in and out of practice today. We didn’t let him do a lot of stuff. But he looked pretty good.”

One thing the Sixers experienced today was perhaps more rare than a Blue Whale sighting. More elusive than the Giant Squid. It was an actual practice session, at their training complex.

“It was nice, we need one,” said Rivers of actually having a gym session. “We’re not one of those teams that has the luxury of being together for several years. We have so many new bodies. A new system, a new coach, everything. To have all of those games with no practice – and then to have all those guys out, and even the shootarounds are not what you expect them to be – absolutely it has affected us. I would love to say it hasn’t, but it’s no doubt (important). You could see it today, trying to run simple actions we couldn’t remember or had bad timing on. Important practice, I don’t know if it will show results right away, but definitely needed.”

Monday, we wrote that the past weekend of Sixers basketball was a farce, based on the fact that they played four games where at least one team was depleted via COVID protocol. Embiid missed the 5th game with a knee issue while the 6th game was postponed because of contact tracing. The NBA is currently trying to get through a rough patch of postponements while teams struggle to field full squads, and against the Nuggets, the Sixers only played seven guys.

“It’s been difficult. I’ve not faced this before,” Rivers admitted. “I’ve had teams with a lot of injuries before, but haven’t had teams where you have to stay an extra night in cities twice already. The only game I still think we shouldn’t have played was the Denver game. I thought that game should have never been played. But I guess if you look at some of the other games, being in Atlanta with eight or nine guys, was it fair? I guess it was, because we had eight or nine. We can’t choose who’s out. But it has absolutely been very difficult, not only just trying to play games with not enough guys, but because we’re so new to one another, just trying to get the execution part of our team together, you would hope at this point you have a lot of it and we just don’t. You just have to keep working at it. A lot of teams are going through it, so we just have to keep pushing forward.”

To Rivers’ credit, he kept reiterating that this wasn’t an issue unique to Sixers. In simple terms, everybody is dealing with this nonsense.

“We can’t lose sight of that,” he said. “It’s every day, everywhere, in every office. It’s in our workplace as well. The other thing I just try to be aware of is that everybody deals with this virus differently. Some guys have no fear. And then some guys have tons of anxiety about it. There’s nothing you can do about it. It doesn’t make them weak; it makes them aware. You have to watch that, too. There are several guys where this whole virus thing freaks them out. We gotta’ deal with that, too. There are a lot of issues for a lot of teams.”

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