‘Absolutely destroying’: Simmons explodes to answer big ‘question’ in Sixers statement
Ben Simmons came to life in the third quarter and answered his critics in emphatic fashion as the Philadelphia 76ers took down the Atlanta Hawks 127-111.
The victory sees the Sixers take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-finals series.
Simmons did get plenty of help with Joel Embiid (27 points, eight assists, nine rebounds) leading the scoring while Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, Furkan Korkmaz and Dwight Howard all finished with double digits.
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The Aussie though looked unlikely to be joining them until a statement third quarter.
After the opening half Simmons had just four points.
His primary job admittedly was not scoring points - for Simmons the focus was on clamping down Trae Young.
It was a role he performed exceptionally alongside Matisse Thybulle in game two and once more he was key in limiting Atlanta’s greatest offensive threat.
For the record, Young finished with a team-high 28 points and eight assists for the Hawks.
But there has always been a big question over Simmons’ game, whether he could come up with the big plays on the offensive end when the Sixers needed it.
The three-time All Star proved he could do just that in the third quarter, managing 11 points and three assists as the Sixers outscored the Hawks 34-19 to push away.
NBA great Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson had tweeted pre-game that “if the Sixers want to win Game 3 in Atlanta Ben Simmons has to be more aggressive on the offensive end”.
It is not anything new though - there have long been calls for Simmons to use his lethal combination of size and speed to his advantage.
NBA fans saw that version of Simmons come to life in the third.
When it comes to making Simmons an offensive threat, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast ‘The Lowe Post’ that the Sixers need to get him more involved, particularly in transition.
“That has been done effectively for Ben Simmons in the past and just get him the ball on the move, especially if it is not a transition game,” he said.
“If the Sixers get really good stops on a regular basis he is the single best accelerator of good defence into transition offence in the league outside of Giannis.
“He’ll always be exceptionally useful in that but it can’t just be sitting in the dunker hoping for something. They probably should precipitate a few things.”
There were several examples in the later stages of the second quarter and early stanza of the third that proved just how lethal Simmons can be in transition.
The Sixers may have ran out big winners but they did so without Danny Green, who came from the court in the first quarter and failed to return after being diagnosed with a right calf strain.
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