Ben Simmons uncertain if able to return this season

Anyone who has had a pinched nerve in their back knows that pain can linger. That’s where 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons is right now.

He has a nerve impingement in his back; something is pressing on the nerve, “pinching” it and causing pain. Simmons is going to be out three more weeks to rest and treat the condition and will be re-evaluated then, the team announced Wednesday.

Simmons is the Sixers’ primary ball-handler and averages 16.9 points, 8.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds and a league-best 2.2 steals a night. The Sixers are not the same without him, and have suffered more on defense lately than offense.

Philadelphia is also without Joel Embiid because of a shoulder injury, but he is expected to comeback this week. Philadelphia is fighting Indiana for the fifth and six seed slots, well below what was expected of the 76ers before the season started.

The Sixers are three games back of the Heat for the four seed and home court in the first round, but would need some help to catch them at this point.

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Simmons missed his eighth straight game.

He will continue to undergo daily treatment for his nerve impingement and that he is gradually increasing the activities in his strength and conditioning program. The timeline could have Simmons back just in time for the playoffs.

Embiid was injured in a Feb. 26 loss at Cleveland when he collided with Ante Zizic. Embiid has missed 21 games this campaign.  “It’s a spirit uplift. It’s a talent uplift,” coach Brett Brown stated about Embiid’s return.

A less than fully healthy Simmons could be an excuse for the Sixers to keep the status quo entering another season, without fixing the problems that existed prior to the injury.

This is admittedly getting ahead of the timeline, but back problems for a 23-year-old have a way of leading to that.

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