The Ben Simmons outbreak within the fourth quarter exhibits its full potential
1:41 AM ET
When the game between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers continued on Friday night, Ben Simmons was nowhere to be seen. Simmons had eight assists in three quarters but only four points from just three shots, and he seemed well on his way to a fifth straight single-digit shot attempt to continue the calm start to the season.
But when Boston reduced Philadelphia's lead to four in the middle of the fourth quarter and threatened to steal the second half of that two-game series between those rivals, Simmons stepped on the scene.
He fought on the offensive glass to score his own mistake. He stormed down the alley to get a bucket. He took a pass in the open space, one he took the other way for a dunk – and that was immediately followed by a break from Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
In 36 seconds, the game went from a throw to one that would clearly end in a Sixers win. That stretch, the key segment to Philadelphia's 122-110 win, was a reminder of how impactful Simmons can be – and that those kinds of moments haven't come around too often to start this season.
"It was good," said Simmons after 15 points – 11 in the fourth quarter – and 11 assists when asked how he has felt this season and if he has heard criticism of his start. "It's a new season. I'm just focusing on winning and doing everything I can to win with this team. I think it was good.
"I don't go on Instagram, I don't go on Twitter so I can't really answer the questions about what people are saying because I honestly don't give an f —. But unless [head coach] Doc [Rivers] says something or [assistant coach] Sam [Cassell] or people come to me, it's a different story.
"But I try to win games and that's why we're all here to win."
It was a strange start to the season for the Sixers. They have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 11-5, but eaten their way on a soft schedule early before the last two weeks after the Sixers missed several players due to the NBA's health and safety protocols, followed by four-player games against Miami Heat and Celtics squads exhausted for the same reason.
Joel Embiid was arguably the NBA's MVP for the first month of the season, and he continued his 42-point performance on Wednesday with a 38-point breakout on Friday night, interrupted by another shot at Celtics' Marcus Smart, frustrated by his foul on Wednesday night.
"I knew they would come into the game after they complained. I knew the position was going to be a little tight for us and I think it's better for them," Embiid said after turning 15 on Friday night Had received free throws 21 in the win on Wednesday.
Ben Simmons anticipates the passport to obtain the theft and then rushes down the plaza to wash up a two-handed dunk.
Tobias Harris has since looked like the player he was when he played for Rivers with the LA Clippers – the one the Sixers paid a heavy trade price for two years ago and then paid $ 180 million over five years have to stay free agent as a player. Harris shot 10-12 and scored 23 points on Friday after scoring 22 points on Wednesday. And the steps the Sixers have taken to better balance the roster by swapping Al Horford and Josh Richardson for Danny Green and Seth Curry respectively, have worked out as well as they'd hoped.
For this team to be the targeted championship contender, the Sixers need the version of Simmons, which was adopted in the fourth quarter for that 36-second stretch – a version that Sixers viewers have been waiting to see more often than it has .
Much has been made about Simmons' shooting – or lack of it – from 3-point range. But what stood out about the pieces he did in the fourth quarter was his aggression. Simmons has not fired 10 shots in nine of his 14 games this season, and his points per game, shots per game, field goal percentage, and usage rate have all decreased this season.
Even so, he said he was pretty happy with his role.
Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images
"Yes, I am," he said. "It's unique and different. There aren't too many people who are able to do what I do. I get to the edge, shoot, plump and relieve, and then get stops defensively. There aren't too many Players in the NBA who do that. " . It's rare.
"So I'll keep building my game and getting better for my team. But in the end I just want to win. And however I have to do that, whether there are 10 steals and no points, no rebounds and 50." help whatever it is i will do it. "
Nobody would argue that Simmons skills are rare. He's listed at 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, but is often the fastest player and the best passer-by on the court – not to mention he can protect virtually anyone, as he did when he switched between little and on Friday the seedy Kemba did Walker and Jaylen Brown, one of the league's sportiest wingers.
But it is precisely because he has so many skills that so much attention is drawn to his game if he doesn't make the impact he made on Friday night in the fourth quarter. Simmons' offensive quiet nights this season have been noticed by opposing Boy Scouts and are so advanced that it has been a regular topic of discussion that Rivers has had to deal with multiple times this season – especially since Simmons is at the heart of A James Harden- Trade hung over the franchise.
"He didn't do it until the end of the game tonight, but he's already played great," said Rivers. "And that's the point I'm trying to make everyone understand. He's doing so many things for this team. His formula for success is amazing in all of those things. He didn't get any recognition last night."
"He was so important to why we won this game with all the things he does, the little cuts, the little setbacks, the rolls and the passes. Ben does a lot and so he can't focus on one thing. How the focus If he just scores, he's too good for me. It would be a waste if we just focused on him. "
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Wednesday January 27th
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In order for the Sixers to leave the Eastern Conference, they will need them. The Celtics fell short in both games this week but were competitive with Jayson Tatum, who was out on health and safety protocols, and Kemba Walker, who was still on a minute limit. The Milwaukee Bucks still have Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league's two-time reigning MVP, along with all-stars Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. The Miami Heat have almost their entire team back from the group that won the East last year.
Oh, and then there's the Interstate 95 team in Brooklyn that happened to be trading for Harden last week and that already had Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on hand.
Even so, there is plenty of time for these sixers to gel and there are reasons for optimism. Embiid and Simmons both spoke out on Friday about their growing relationship on the pitch. The fact that Harden has been traded and the potential for him to get to Philadelphia is gone removes another distraction. And now that they finally have all the players back after getting Curry back on Friday night, Embiid spoke after the game about the Sixers' desire to start a winning streak.
However, the chances of that will only increase if Simmons can pull together a series of 36-second games that cemented the outcome of Friday's game.
"I love playing with him," said Embiid. "The fourth quarter starts on the defensive end and he was a monster. He got a lot of steals and then he was aggressive halfway down the pick and roll that he attacked and played games, he did scored a pair. " Baskets.
"He was huge tonight. He was huge tonight."