The Philadelphia 76ers will open the second half of their season with a road back-to-back, facing the Bulls in Chicago on Thursday and the Wizards in Washington on Friday. For the Bulls game, they will be without the services of their two All-Stars, as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons remain quarantined after they were forced out of the All-Star Game after it was learned that their barber back in Philly had tested positive for COVID-19.
Per the league’s contact tracing protocols, the two must produce seven straight days of negative tests before they can return. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Embiid would be eligible to return on Friday while Simmons wouldn’t be able to return until Saturday, meaning at the very least, they’ll be without their star point guard for two games.
Whether the Sixers would have Embiid come back after a week off the court and play in Washington remains to be seen, but if he remains negative he would at least be eligible to rejoin the team for that contest against the Wizards. For a Sixers team that is narrowly holding onto the top seed in the East (a half game up on Brooklyn) entering the second half of the season, every win counts and turning two should wins into toss-ups without their stars would be an unfortunate start for a team that has been sensational at home and will be looking to get as high a seed as possible to get homecourt in the playoffs.