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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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