Tagged in: All-Stars

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons both ruled out Thursday due to COVID-19 contact tracing

The Philadelphia 76ers stated Tuesday that All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons would both miss Thursday’s game versus the Chicago Bulls — and that Simmons will miss Friday’s game versus the Washington Wizards — due to the same contact tracing that kept both of them from participating in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Presuming both continue to test negative for COVID-19 — as they have so far — Embiid will be eligible to return for Friday night’s game versus Washington, while Simmons will be able to return Sunday at home against the San Antonio Spurs.

Both players were pulled out of Sunday’s All-Star Game after having come in contact with a barber in Philadelphia who later tested positive for COVID-19.

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The NBA had strict quarantines for everyone involved with the league’s midseason showcase, however, and the two players were able to depart from Atlanta later in the day and return to Philadelphia.

They were the only two people involved with the game who had any issues with either a positive test or contact tracing over the weekend.

The Sixers ended the first half of the campaign with the best record in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets. They will practice Wednesday night ahead of returning to the court in Chicago on Thursday.

Embiid is in the midst of the best season of his career, averaging more than 30 points and 11 rebounds per match, and as a result is a leading contender for the NBA’s MVP award.

Simmons is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game, and has coupled his always impressive defensive abilities with a recent burst of aggression offensively — including scoring a career-high 42 points in Utah last month in a game Embiid sat out due to injury.

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Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine focused on becoming NBA All-Star

Zach LaVine set out his objectives for this upcoming season with the Chicago Bulls, aiming on winning and making the All-Star team. 

With All-Star Weekend set to come back to Chicago for the first time in three decades this February, the two-time slam dunk champion is certainly eyeing this year’s festivities. But not just the ones on Saturday night.

Which is why even after a career-best 2018-19 season with the Chicago Bulls, he knows what needs to be done in order to reach his goal of becoming an NBA All-Star.

LaVine, 24, averaged career highs of 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists with 46.7 percent shooting during his fifth season, but the Bulls were an afterthought with a 22-60 finish.

He appeared in 63 total games while battling an ankle injury and pushing through drama within the organization that resulted in Jim Boylen being promoted to head coach after the firing of Chicago’s previous sideline leader Fred Hoiberg.

Although they didn’t fully see eye to eye in the beginning, Boylen surely has faith in LaVine’s offensive ability, after finishing in the top-20 of NBA scoring, but he is now challenging LaVine to regularly commit to the other end of the court.

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“What I’d like him to be is a two-way player, and I’d also like him to be a guy that shoots eight, nine, 10 free throws a game,” Boylen said.

Bulls forward Thaddeus Young didn’t make the final cut from the Team USA roster this summer to compete in FIBA Basketball World Cup action, but he was able to interact with several of the league’s rising stars such as Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Myles Turner through that experience.

Young sees a common thread between LaVine and that level of talent. Chicago posted the league’s sixth-worst defensive rating last season (112.8), so it’s not only LaVine who is looking to improve defensively but also the team, which gets back to his point of team and individual success being intertwined.

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