INDIANAPOLIS — As much as the 76ers try to paint a positive picture, things don’t appear to be good with Jahlil Okafor’s right knee.
The center missed his second consecutive game and ninth of the season with right knee soreness Sunday against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Okafor also did not participate in the shootaround that morning. Team officials said they do not know when he’ll return. The Sixers have nine games remaining. Their next matchup is Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.
“I’m a complete prisoner to his body and medical news,” coach Brett Brown said of Okafor. “We will react when the medical people tell me.”
When will that be?
One would assume that the Sixers would be better off just shutting down the big man for the rest of the season. Okafor keeps saying that team is being “super cautious.”
“If we were like on the verge of trying to get a playoff spot or something like that, I could go out there and play,” Okafor said Friday. “But Coach Brown and all of our people behind the scenes don’t believe it’s necessary for me to play if my knee is feeling sore and stuff like that.
“It’s pretty much how they’ve been since I’ve been a Sixer. They’ve been super cautious.”
Okafor has been dealing with soreness he had surgery on March 22, 2016 to repair a torn meniscus in the knee. He experienced knee soreness in the first half of the Sixers’ game against the Boston Celtics on March 19 at the Wells Fargo Center. Okafor was unable to play in the second half. He missed the next night’s game against the Orlando Magic.
He returned to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. However, the Sixers held him out against the Chicago Bulls on Friday. Their reasoning was that Thunder shooting guard Victor Oladipo inadvertently hit Okafor’s knee during Wednesday’s matchup at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Another streak ends
The Sixers have snapped series losing streaks of at least six games against nine teams this season: the Toronto Raptors (14 games), Chicago Bulls (12), Boston Celtics (11), Milwaukee Bucks (nine), Los Angeles Clippers (nine), Dallas Mavericks (eight), Washington Wizards (six), Indiana Pacers (six), and Charlotte Hornets (six).
Brown said he has not been acutely aware the skids. He prefers to look the season “from a global perspective.”
“I just think in general that we are getting better,” he said. “No matter who you told me we were going to play, or what records we had broken, what history or streaks we have achieved, I just have a gut feel supported by results that we are getting better.”
Crean in the house
Former Indiana University coach Tom Crean was with the Sixers on Sunday morning. The Hoosiers fired him March 16 after nine seasons.
Brown and Crean talked about basketball strategy at the scorers’ table after the shootaround.
“This is the first time I met him,” Brown said. “Any time you get somebody like that and have the opportunity to speak with him, you are always curious.”
Crean knows Jim O’Brien, the Sixers’ associate head coach. Crean attended the Sixers’ coaching meeting, team film study, and shootaround.