Sixers Drop Third Straight Despite A Monstrous Performance from Ben Simmons
The Sixers lost their third straight game to the Utah Jazz, 134-123, which concluded a rough four game road trip out west. Even though this was a tough loss, it almost feels like a win because of how impressive Ben Simmons played throughout the game. Simmons finished with 42 points (career high), 12 assists, and 9 rebounds. He guided the Sixers to a 42-35 lead after the first quarter, scoring 19 points and four assists. Simmons either scored or created 12 of Sixers 16 baskets in the first frame.
Benjamin Simmons & Tobias Harris
Ben’s aforementioned performance was by far the best offensive game of his career, smashing his previous career high in points (34), and was still able to dish 12 assists and pull in 9 rebounds, one short of a triple-double. Simmons was aggressive throughout, and maintained that confidence throughout the game. This seems to be the type of performance we all look back on to justify Ben’s potential, but I genuinely believe this type of aggression will continue with Simmons. On this road trip alone, Simmons has scored 23 points against the Blazers, 18 against the Suns, and now 42 points against the Jazz. After scoring over 18 points just twice throughout the season, Simmons has done so in three straight games.
An underrated part of Simmons’ recently improved play has been his increase of free throw attempts, and is making them at a career best 64%. Ben was able to attack the paint and get to the line against the Jazz and he made them pay, shooting 12-13 from the line. Despite the loss, and a disappointing road trip in general, Simmons and Harris having career performances makes everything hurt a bit less. Although typically is overshadowed by his teammates, Tobias Harris finished the game a season-high 36 points on 14-24 shooting with 10 rebounds.
Bench and Shooting Struggles
What was once seen as strengths for the Sixers at the start of the season is now turning into a glaring issue. The depth and perimeter shooting from the team as a whole, and more specifically a bench without Shake Milton, continues to hurt this Sixers team. Dwight Howard was a bright spot, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, but aside from Howard the bench combined for a miserable 11 points against the Jazz. Utah’s Jordan Clarkson alone outscored the Sixers bench 40-25. Philadelphia’s attempts from three have taken a significant dip recently, ranking 28th in the league. The Sixers were 8-23 from three point range against the Jazz and it is becoming evident that this team needs another scorer, or playmaker in the second unit.
No Reason to Panic
Yes, this was a tough road trip and the Sixers played a few very strong teams but they are going to be just fine. Obviously, in tonight’s case, it’s hard to make up for the 30 missing points from Joel, and it is inexcusable in today’s NBA to be shooting less than 25 three pointers in a game but I am still very confident that the Sixers can and will get back on track, and there will likely be a move soon to help bolster the bench.
Jordan Clarkson was very impressive in Utah’s win, scoring 40 points on 8/13 from deep. Donovan Mitchell added 24 points and 5 assists. Utah improves to 23-5 and remains at the top of the Western Conference.