The fact that the start of the NBA’s postseason was pushed back from April to August could end up working in Philadelphia’s favor in a major way. Had the playoffs begun in April like they were supposed to, the 76ers likely would have been without All-Star guard Ben Simmons, who was sidelined indefinitely with a lower back impingement when the season was suspended in March. But, due to the extra time for rehab and recovery afforded by the suspension of the season, Simmons will be ready to go for the Sixers’ postseason push in Orlando, and on a conference call with media members on Thursday, Simmons said that he is feeling even better than he was when the season started.
“I’m feeling even better than I was when I started the season,” Simmons said. “I’ve been working since I had the injury, working until now to prepare for whatever happens, wherever we go. I’m feeling great. I’ve been rehabbing this whole time, so I’m feeling ready. And I’m feeling very comfortable.”
For those that like numbers, Simmons provided a very important one on Thursday: 100, as in he feels like he’s back to 100 percent physically.
“I feel a lot more in control when I’m out there on the floor,” Simmons said. “I know what I’m capable of with my body and it just feels very good and overall I feel like I’m back to 100 percent and it’s a good feeling.”
Simmons doesn’t know for sure if he would have missed the postseason had things proceeded as originally scheduled, but he is sure that the extra time to train worked in his favor, and he did his best to take advantage of the opportunity.
“No idea,” Simmons replied when asked if he would have been able to return for the postseason if it had taken place in April. “I’d be able to tell you if we got there, but I was at a point where I was feeling comfortable with getting back on the floor. But it also was a different type of pace to a workout, so it’s really hard to judge. But I felt very good. I felt like I was ready. But this extra window of time, it’s a blessing that comes with everything going on, but I’m using it to my full advantage to get back out there, so I’m ready to go.”
As far as heading down to the NBA’s “bubble” in Orlando, Simmons said that he wants to be there with his teammates and that he trusts the league and its veterans when it comes to the safety of all involved.
“I trust in the NBA and in those older vets like [LeBron James] and like [Chris Paul] who are ready to go down there,” Simmons said. “Also, this is our job. I believe strongly that personally, I don’t have any problems with people who want to sit out. Everybody’s personal stuff is different, so I can’t speak on anybody else, but personally, for me, I want to get out there and play.
“Wherever my team is, I feel like it’s my responsibility to go down there and represent Philadelphia in the highest way possible, and I think this is the right way to do it. If we’re safe down there, and I trust in what the NBA is doing, and they’re taking extreme precautions with this. So I feel like if we’re all going, I’m in. I’m with my teammates and I never would want them to go down and not expect to see me there. So I’m all-in with my team.”
The fact that Simmons is fully healthy is a great sign for Philadelphia. At his best, Simmons is a nightly triple-double threat and one of the best defenders in the entire NBA, and the Sixers will need him to be at least close to that if they hope to advance deep into the postseason.