Brand, Hawes could be out against Spurs

Posted: February 08, 2012

Coming off an impressive 4-1 stretch against some of the NBA's best teams, the 76ers are set to wind up their whirlwind week against the first-place San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday and the first-place Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. And, with the rest of the NBA watching them take on the Spurs and Tim Duncan and the Clippers and Blake Griffin, the Sixers may have to do it without two of their best players.

Center Spencer Hawes had an MRI exam of his lower back on Tuesday and is doubtful for the Spurs game. Starting power forward Elton Brand, who did not play in the Sixers' impressive 95-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, might miss his second game in a row because of a sprained thumb.

"He's a little sore," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of Hawes on Tuesday during the team's practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

If both players are out, Collins said, the Sixers probably will start Tony Battie at center and Temple rookie Lavoy Allen at power forward. Brand, who participated in a light workout, tried to convince Collins to play him against the Lakers. But Collins ruled that out.

"It's feeling better," said Brand, who did some catch-and-shoot drills. "It's better today, much better today. I'll get treatment again, and we'll see game time."

Brand didn't rule out playing Wednesday.

"It depends on who gets to Coach first," Brand said. "If I get to him first, [the chance of playing] goes up. I feel like I might need to play tomorrow with what's going on with the team, so we'll see."

The Sixers (18-7), winners of six of their last seven games, are clearly more concerned with Hawes' condition. Hawes didn't practice because his left Achilles tendon, which kept him out of 10 games before he appeared in the last two, was sore. Earlier in the season, he missed a game because of a lower-back strain.

The MRI, according to the Sixers, was conducted to determine whether there is some connection between the injuries.

"His Achilles is sore again, and that's what I was worried about," Collins said. "I was worried about wear and tear. You knew looking at this season there were going to be a ton of injuries and how you were going to be able to survive them and how much depth you had was going to be important."

Collins labeled the season a battle of attrition. And who can argue with him? San Antonio (17-9), winner of five straight, has played 21 games in a row without the services of shooting guard Manu Ginobili, who suffered a broken bone in his left hand Jan. 2 against Minnesota. Ginobili is expected to return next week.

On Friday, the Sixers will host an emerging Clippers team that was struck a serious blow on Monday when guard Chauncey Billups was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

"It's about who can keep their players the healthiest," Collins explained.

One thing is for sure. The Sixers' recent wins over Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta, and the Lakers have kept their record healthy.


Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com or @deepsixer3 on Twitter.

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