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76ers' Embiid, Simmons to miss second-half opener due to contact tracing

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (pictured) and guard Ben Simmons both missed Sunday night's All-Star Game in Atlanta due to the same contact tracing. File Photo by Peter Foley/EPA-EFE
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (pictured) and guard Ben Simmons both missed Sunday night's All-Star Game in Atlanta due to the same contact tracing. File Photo by Peter Foley/EPA-EFE

March 9 (UPI) -- Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and guard Ben Simmons will miss Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bulls due to the same COVID-19 contact tracing that prevented both of them from taking part in Sunday's All-Star Game in Atlanta.

76ers officials told ESPN and The Athletic on Tuesday that Embiid will be eligible to return for Friday's contest against the Washington Wizards if he continues to test negative for the coronavirus. Simmons will be able to return Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.

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Embiid and Simmons were pulled out of the All-Star Game after both players had close contact with a barber who later tested positive for COVID-19. They were the only two players involved with the league's mid-season showcase who had any issues with a positive test or contact tracing.

The 76ers ended the first half of the 2020-21 season with the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers will practice Wednesday before opening the second half of their schedule Thursday in Chicago.

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Embiid, who is one of the leading contenders for this year's NBA Most Valuable Player Award, has averaged 30.2 points and 11.6 rebounds this season.

Simmons is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists this year.

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