For Dario Saric, playing through pain is part of his game.
The 76ers power forward suffered a game-ending chipped left central incisor and cut upper lip on the first possession of Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. That occurred in his third game back after being sidelined three games with cellulitis in his right elbow.
While his mouth feels better, the second-year veteran still experiences pain in his elbow.
“It’s random,” he said Saturday morning of the pain. “Sometimes when I’m laying on the couch at my home and I have pain. Sometimes I’m running here [at the 76ers practice facility] on the court and I don’t have pain. It’s like a random thing.”
Saric has to warm up his elbow before practices and games by taking shots in order to play “normal.”
“But still I feel something there,” he said. “But you know it’s the playoffs. You cannot think too much. You just go through [it], and try to do [your best.]”
Saric hurt his elbow when he dove on the floor to tap the ball to Ben Simmons on March 28 against the New York Knicks.
He kept playing. However, the elbow bothered him during the March 30 victory over the Hawks in Atlanta. It became infected. Saric will continue to take antibiotics over the next few days.
The Croatian player had 24 points on 10 for 19 shooting in Wednesday’s regular-season finale victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. He also had five rebounds and an assist in 28 minutes, 24 seconds. Saric averaged 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in the regular season.
The Simmons factor
Ersan Ilyasova is a good person to ask about the differences from the 2016-17 and this season’s Sixers squad.
The power forward spent four months with Philly last season before being traded to the Hawks on Feb. 22, 2017. This season, the Sixers reacquired him on Feb. 28 after he was bought out of his Atlanta contract two days earlier.
He said the difference from last season was having a healthy Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Then he went on to rave about the differences Simmons has made.
“Last year, when I look at it, Ben brings a lot of different view to the game,”Ilyasova said. “The way he plays, he’s definitely the rookie of the year. So he has to get that award, no matter what. The way he plays he just creates open shots for others. You put shooters around him, you are going to be much better.”