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While injuries are simply a part of professional sports, no one wants to see their team’s star player going down at a crucial point of the season. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening in Philadelphia. 76ers guard Ben Simmons has gone down with a back injury; while the details are still sparse, things don’t seem good.

One reality seems clear, though: the Philadelphia 76ers will have to fight for home-court advantage without their star guard. In the meantime, their fans will be left wondering what’s really going on with Ben Simmons and his bad back.

Ben Simmons road to the Philadelphia 76ers

Growing up in Australia, Ben Simmons played basketball and Australian rules football. While he loved both sports, he eventually decided to spend his time on the hardwood; that turned out to be a wise decision.

After starting his basketball career in Australia, Simmons moved to the United States to play high school ball. He shone at Florida’s Montverde Academy, earning a spot in the McDonald’s All-American Game as a senior; he also rose to the top of the recruiting rankings and committed his college future to LSU.

While Simmons shone individually with the Tigers, the season didn’t go according to plan. Despite averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game, the forward couldn’t earn LSU a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The school then chose to forgo all postseason play, and Simmons declared for the 2016 NBA draft.

The Philadelphia 76ers snapped Simmons up with the first overall pick, but his NBA career wouldn’t start smoothly. The rookie broke his foot during training camp; he ended up missing the entire campaign. Once the guard hit the court, however, he promptly made up for lost time; Simmons earned 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year honors and has only continued to improve.

What’s going on with Ben Simmons’ back injury?

Other than missing the entire 2016-17 season, Ben Simmons has been a fixture in the Philadelphia 76ers lineup. The guard, however, now seems like he’ll be spending an extended spell on the sidelines.

Coming out of the All-Star break, Simmons struggled with a mysterious issue. The guard missed his team’s game against the Brooklyn Nets with back tightness; while he took the floor against the Milwaukee Bucks, he only played a few minutes before heading to the locker room with a new problem.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Simmons was “still undergoing treatment and evaluation on his back.” While details were scarce, the guard was going to miss some time; it was just a matter of how much.

On Tuesday night, however, we received some clarification. Woj once again came to the rescue, reporting that Simmons has a nerve impingement in his lower back. The 76ers will re-evaluate him in two weeks, but there’s virtually no expectation he’ll be ready to play. “Doctors are hopeful treatment can drive improvement,” Wojnarowski wrote, “but Sixers are preparing to play without him.”

Joel Emiid will have to step up for the Philadelphia 76ers

While losing a key player down the stretch is never ideal, the Philadelphia 76ers do have another star on their roster. Joel Embiid, the self-proclaimed best player in basketball, will have to pick up the slack.

If Monday night’s game was any indication, though, the big man is ready to do just that. Embiid poured in 49 points and pulled down 14 boards as the Sixers topped the Atlanta Hawks; while he can’t win every game single-handedly, he’ll need to shoulder an additional burden with Simmons on the sidelines.

[Embiid] knows it more than I can say it,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said when asked about the big man’s role with Simmons out of the lineup. “We talked a little bit about it. With the sort of news of Ben, and him not being there, it’s clear he’s got to come out and he’s got to play like he did tonight for the most part.”

At this point in the season, the Philadelphia 76ers are essentially guaranteed a playoff berth. If they want to make a run at the title, though, Joel Embiid’s heroics won’t be enough; they’ll also need a healthy Ben Simmons.