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After game one in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers fans clearly blamed Ben Simmons for the loss. In 32 minutes, Simmons didn’t manage to score double-digits, and didn’t have an impact under the rim or in distribution either.
Some were calling for Simmons to either step up or step out, and by game two, Simmons stepped up. Simmons finished with a triple-double, sparking a runaway victory for the 76ers.
While most Philadelphia fans were quite happy to see the Simmons of last year re-appear in the playoffs, there was one Nets player who still had his doubts. Jared Dudley spoke out after game two, throwing some shade the way of the former #1 pick out of Australia.
Game three came around and Simmons had to take on a bit of a workload with Joel Embiid on the sidelines. He responded with a stat line of 31 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and a couple of blocks to boot. With the support of a double-double from Tobias Harris and 26 points from JJ Redick, Simmons dominated on the floor. On the other end, Jared Dudley didn’t score in 16 minutes.
It was a career playoff high for Simmons, eclipsing the 24 that he scored against Miami in game two last year. It was also the first time that a 76ers player went for 30+ points while also shooting over 80% from the floor. Adding on, it was Simmons best scoring performance of the year, surpassing the 29 he scored against Phoenix and Portland in the regular season.
Obviously there are still facets of the Australian’s game that need to be worked on; namely the fact that he seemingly can’t shoot from the perimeter. According to Basketball Reference, Simmons is shooting at 25% from 10-16 feet, and that drops to a mere 10% from outside 16 feet.
His distribution is, at the best of times, incredible. At other times, it leaves a lot to be desired. A classic case was his turnover triple-double against Toronto, in which he had 11 turnovers to go with as many points and 10 assists. In the March 2nd game against Golden State, Simmons gave away 9 turnovers against the best shooting team in the association.
If Simmons is able to continue with these types of performances, even more so once Embiid gets back on the court, Philadelphia is going to be scary to watch in the playoffs.
Featured Image: Sports Illustrated