Miami — Andre Drummond still isn’t ready to return. Not quite.
Drummond, who is recovering from bruised ribs, missed Wednesday’s loss against the Miami Heat and whether he returns Friday for the third showdown with Joel Embiid in Philadelphia on Friday is in doubt. Drummond sustained the injury this week in practice and didn’t work out on Wednesday or Thursday.
The tricky thing about bruised ribs is that there’s no reliable way to measure the amount of pain Drummond is in — or when he’ll return to the lineup.
“It’s is a pain-tolerance thing. Everybody has had them,” coach Stan Van Gundy said after Thursday’s practice in Miami. “It’s hard to breathe and hard to move. Whenever he’s comfortable enough to go, he’ll go. It’s a painful injury, no question.”
Bruised ribs impacts breathing and with so many movements that Drummond makes — plus his 6-foot-11 frame — it’s not an easy injury to get around. The treatment protocol calls for rest, icing and keeping him comfortable, but it’s Drummond’s choice when he can return.
“There’s no doctor telling him he has to sit out; it’s whatever he can tolerate,” Van Gundy said Wednesday.
The Heat game was the first that Drummond has missed this season — and he’s been durable in his career, missing just three total in the past four seasons.
Drummond’s perimeter defense on the pick-and-roll was sorely missed Wednesday, as the Heat had their way in getting into the paint and kicking out for open 3-pointers. They made 17 shots from beyond the arc and Drummond’s athleticism likely would have short-circuited some of that action.
Avery Bradley called Drummond the best defending big man on the pick-and-roll in the league — lofty praise from the Pistons’ best perimeter defender. Friday’s potential showdown with Embiid presents another quandary, if Drummond can’t play.
It likely would mean that Boban Marjanovic, who started against the Heat and had 15 points and nine rebounds, could get his second start with the Pistons, or Eric Moreland could step in for his first start.
In his first game back in the lineup, Bradley took some time to adjust, shooting 6-for-19 from the field and finishing with 15 points. Beyond the offensive woes, he was a little off on defense, a step slow on some rotations and not playing up to his customary level.
He played a hefty 38 minutes, which Van Gundy recognized afterwards as something of an issue.
“Our matchups were fine. I should have had Avery at three or four fewer minutes,” he said. “That’s one of his biggest-minute games this year, in his first game back. That’s probably not a good decision there. I actually didn’t realize it was that much.
“He certainly had a couple mistakes, like everybody did. He wasn’t closing as hard as usual. Not a big difference for him but he’ll get back to it pretty quick.”
Van Gundy said he could have played Bradley more on Goran Dragic, who had 24 points and 13 assists and had his way in getting to the paint and creating shots for others.
Stanley Johnson (hip flexor) did some shooting after practice and still is questionable for Friday’s game. He’s missed the last two games and with the back-to-back — including Saturday's home game against the Houston Rockets — he could be on a longer layoff if the pain and movement issues don’t improve.
Pistons at 76ers
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Friday, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
TV/radio: FSD-plus/WWJ 950
Outlook: The Pistons (20-16) lost the first two meetings to the 76ers this season and could be without Andre Drummond (bruised ribs), who missed Wednesday’s loss at Miami.