Brand still sidelined

Elton Brand will still be in street clothes for tonight's game against the San Antonio Spurs.

When will he return? Goodness, I thought I had the answer to that question ... but then a few minutes later, it seemed there was no answer.

First, Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said that Brand would have played tonight if it wasn't the front end of a back-to-back (Sixers play the New York Knicks tomorrow night in NYC). DiLeo also said that unless Brand's right shoulder doesn't feel good tomorrow night, he'll be planning.

"We're planning for tomorrow," were DiLeo's exact words.

Okay, question answered, right? Brand isn't playing tonight, but unless something crazy goes down, he'll be playing against the Knicks tomorrow.

Five minutes later, we spoke with Brand.

"We're still trying to get some, I guess I would say, time to test it ... 1 on 1, 3 on 3, banging ..." Brand said.

Brand said he would have tried to go tonight, but, at the end of the day, it's a combined decision, and a long-term decision. Here's where the confusion comes. We asked what the chances would be that he plays tomorrow against the Knicks.

After a long pause, Brand said, "50-50."

That was surprising, considering it sounded, minutes earlier, as if the chance of Brand playing was more like at 90 percent. Here's the issue. Brand said the full healing time of his injury (dislocated right shoulder) is six weeks. He's been resting for 4-1/2 weeks. Brand said 6 weeks would be "optimal."

Well, if "at the end of the day" this is a long-term decision, why would Brand return sooner than six weeks? Furthermore (this word makes me sound like a lawyer), if you look at the Sixers schedule, if the Sixers hold Brand out of the lineup until after Monday's game against the Dallas Mavericks, he'll receive the benefit of a four-day layoff between games. That would put him right around six weeks.

Brand's reaction to this scenario seemed to say it was a possibility.

"The more it heals," Brand said. "The less of a chance it can slip out."

So there you have it: Brand is playing tomorrow night. But maybe he's not.

Tonight's game: Sixers vs. Spurs. Can the Sixers make it six straight? Here are my keys to winning this game:

1.) Hold the Spurs to less than seven three-pointers. I know they are deadly from the outside, but I think seven is reasonable.

2.) The bench has to score at least 25 points. Yes, that can come solely from Lou Williams and Marreese Speights, if it must.

3.) Less than 13 turnovers. The Sixers had nine against the Portland Trailblazers. That's a great number, but not realistic on a nightly basis.

Time for tip off.

--Kate

p.s. Also of note: How interesting is it that, three weeks ago, a game against the San Antonio Spurs would be checked off as a loss, no questions asked. If I predicted otherwise, you guys would think I was crazy. Now, while the Sixers might still lose, we all expect a strong performance and, quite possibly, a victory.

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