Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were forced to miss the All-Star Game due to exposure to COVID-19, but fortunately, the length of the All-Star break means that they won't need to miss much time on the court for the Philadelphia 76ers. Both Simmons and Embiid were forced into seven-day quarantines after having their hair cut by a barber who later tested positive for COVID-19, but thanks to the break, they will both return shortly.
Embiid will be back on the floor in time for Friday's game against the Washington Wizards, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, who is also reporting that Simmons will exit quarantine on Saturday and therefore return for Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs. The 76ers will only have to play a single game without both of their All-Stars: a Thursday tilt with the Chicago Bulls.
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Simmons and Embiid have both so far tested negative for COVID-19, and their returns are contingent upon continuing to do so. The 76ers lost Seth Curry to a positive COVID test earlier this season, and as a result, were forced to play a number of games with several key players out due to the league's contact tracing rules.
The 76ers currently lead the Brooklyn Nets by only half a game for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Every game is therefore critical in pursuit of home-court advantage, so getting Simmons and Embiid back quickly is an enormous win for Philadelphia. If they can weather the storm against Chicago and Washington, they'll be back to full strength on Sunday.