Ben Simmons dominated game one vs the Wizards
The Philadelphia 76ers kicked off the 2021 NBA Playoffs yesterday afternoon with a game one victory against the Washington Wizards. Ben Simmons was back in the playoffs for the first time in two years after missing last year’s bubble playoffs due to injury. Simmons shot 3-for-9 from the floor and a miserable 0-6 from the foul line.
“Stat Sexuals” as we often say here at The Liberty Line, will look at Simmons’ game yesterday and tell you that he was terrible based on his scoring numbers and zero production from the foul line.
As usual, those types of people are completely wrong. The conversation around Ben Simmons is always an interesting one. Honestly, I’m sick of it. It’s hard to even take these types of fans seriously anymore. In a game where Joel Embiid was limited to just 10 minutes in the first half, while Tobias Harris went off for 28 points in the first, for the conversation post game to revolve around Ben Simmons and how many points he scored is absolutely ridiculous.
Whoever Ben guarded yesterday struggled to score. He created so many points for his teammates in transition it was honestly hard to keep up. Simmons created opportunities and controlled the pace of the game the entire time he was on the court. Defensively, he was nothing short of amazing.
Ben Simmons Assists and Rebounds
Simmons recorded 15 assists yesterday. It was the most in a game for Ben since December 2019 and a playoff career high. He also grabbed 15 rebounds, including a career-high eight offensive boards. During the regular season, Simmons assisted on 223 three-pointers. Yesterday, he assisted on 5 of the Sixers’ 10 three-pointers.
Yes, Bradley Beal scored 33 points. He’s one of the best offensive talents in the NBA. Only two of those points, however, were on Simmons. If you look at the NBA’s tracking data, Beal was held to just 1-of-6 shooting and turned the ball over three times when Simmons guarded him. Beal was scrambling all game to get Simmons off his ass, which was evident in the constant calls for screens throughout the game.
Offensively, Simmons scored four of the Sixers’ first six points. He was silent offensively for a long period of time until a right-handed put-back dunk in the third quarter against former teammate Raul Neto.
When an NBA team has a player performing like Tobias Harris did yesterday, the job of the point guard is to make sure they are feeding the hot hand relentlessly. That’s exactly what Simmons did yesterday as Tobias Harris exploded in the first half.
“I just try to make winning plays and do what I can to help the team win, and be the point guard and run the team. Put guys in the right positions, run the right sets. If somebody’s feeling it, keep getting them the ball. And I think overall, today we did a good job of that.”
On top of rebounding, assisting, and playing an elite level of defense, Simmons only committed two of the Sixers’ 11 turnovers in the game. It was true yesterday that Simmons struggled from the foul line and missed some clutch free throws down the stretch. No one is denying his subpar offensive performance. It is however, important to recognize his performance and accept the fact that these are the types of games you are going to get from Simmons throughout the playoffs and that’s okay.
Simmons will undoubtedly break out and have a great offensive performance. He will score 18-20 points in a game this series and most likely, in multiple games in the playoffs. What Ben Simmons realizes and what fans fail to see, is that Simmons can help the Sixers win ball games without dominating offensively by dominating in transition offense, driving and kicking out to open teammates, and playing elite defense.
Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris can carry the offensive load for the Sixers in the playoffs. Ben Simmons will make sure everyone else is in the right position and doing their jobs as well. If you have a problem with the way Ben Simmons played yesterday, you’re wrong. There’s no other way to look at it. The Sixers won. Tobias Harris dominated. The Sixers did what they needed to do in game one of the NBA Playoffs.
Get ready for a long playoff run. The Sixers are back in action Wednesday.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher - USA TODAY Sports