Ben Simmons dominates offensively and defensively against the Pistons
Ben Simmons carried the 76ers in the fourth quarter of a 122-111 victory against the Boston Celtics on Friday night. Simmons scored 11 points in the fourth quarter of that game and was a defensive force and elite facilitator throughout. The fourth quarter effort from Ben Simmons carried over to the 76ers win last night in Detroit. Simmons was dominant on both ends of the court yet again and was tasked with guarding ex-process player Jerami Grant for the majority of the night.
Jerami Grant entered last nights game averaging 25.1 points per game and shooting 46.2 percent from the field. He was shooting 39.6 percent from deep. Grant who at 26 years old has never averaged over 13.6 points per game in his previous six NBA seasons, has been playing the best basketball of his career.
Last night, Simmons did not allow Grant to breathe. Grant finished with just 11 points on 3-of-19 shooting. Simmons was a blanket on Grant all over the court. Like I said in my preview before the game, if the Sixers can stop Jerami Grant, they would win the game. Thankfully, Simmons did just that and was literally all over the court defensively throughout the game.
Look at this hustle from Simmons:
We often take Simmons’ defense for granted since he struggles offensively. It’s clear that the majority of fans will continue to give Simmons a hard time if he fails to put up offensive numbers that are expected from a franchise player and previous number one overall pick.
Last night, Simmons gave 76ers fans exactly what they expect to see on both ends of the court. As soon as the game tipped off, Simmons was aggressive. In the first half alone, Simmons scored 16 points, including six free throw attempts. The most important part of Simmons offensively was the fact that last night, he was not only scoring on signature fast breaks, but also in the post during half-court sets. Last night we saw Simmons working in the post and knocking down a few floaters in-front of the rim. This was a huge adjustment by Doc Rivers and Simmons that needed to be made and it paid off for Simmons and the Sixers.
Simmons attacked defenders at the rim with a “shoot first” mentality last night. What we have come to know from Simmons in previous games and even years, is that he would drive the lane and immediately look to pass. This would drive fans crazy, given the fact that instead of attacking the rim and playing with that aggressiveness and anger that we crave from Simmons, he would choose to find one of his teammates along the perimeter instead.
With under a minute left in the game, Simmons had the ball in his hands entering the offensive side of the court and dashed into the lane at full speed. Instead of looking for an outlet pass (Danny Green and Seth Curry were open) Simmons attacked his defender at the basket and drew the foul. Simmons then knocked down two free throws and essentially sealed the game for the 76ers. When Ben Simmons is attacking the basket and making free throws, his game offensively changes significantly and for the better.
What we have seen from Ben Simmons in the last five quarters of basketball has been nothing short of tremendous work by the 24-year old franchise cornerstone. If Simmons continues to progress and play like he has played in recent memory, it adds a whole new dynamic to the 76ers offense and will likely help lead the team to the Eastern Conference Finals.
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Mandatory Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer