The Philadelphia 76ers were able to finish off a 125-118 win over the Washington Wizards in Game 1 on Sunday and it was a solid win for everybody involved. The Sixers got a big performance out of Tobias Harris as well as Joel Embiid, but there was one performance that was key in the win, but it received a lot of criticism.
Ben Simmons put up a stat line of six points, a playoff career-high 15 assists, and 15 rebounds in the win while also providing excellent defense on Wizards star Bradley Beal. It was a performance that coach Doc Rivers called “special” after the win, but Simmons got criticized for only scoring the six points and he was 0-for-6 from the foul line.
“I have zero reaction, I really do,” said Rivers. “If you guys don’t know the treasure you have by now, then shame on everyone, because he’s been fantastic for us. He creates points every single night for us. When Ben is on the floor, we were really good. I’m amazed that people don’t see that what he does.”
Simmons is so essential to Philadelphia’s offensive success. When he is able to get out in transition and pushing the pace to create more open looks for everybody in their offense, they have the success that they expect to have.
“We’re so caught up in is the amount of points he scored,” Rivers continued. “If Ben had all 125, would we be mad that Joel didn’t score? Who cares who scores as long as we’re scoring? I think Ben does a great job of doing that for us. When Ben plays, we score more points.”
When Simmons defended Beal, he held him to 1-for-6 shooting. That is elite defense against an explosive scorer and everybody needs to begin realizing what he does bring to the floor on a nightly basis.
“I love Ben’s game,” said veteran George Hill. “What I can say, he shouldn’t give two craps about what you guys say, what other people say, what the media says, or what other people on the outside looking in say. He has a job here and he does a great job doing it.”
“There are nights where he can score a lot of points and there’s nights where he’s doing other things to impact the game and help us win,” Hill continued. “He’s scoring six points with 15 assists and 15 rebounds, if anybody else does that, you guys are congratulating him for having a great game. I feel like, just take pressure off of him, and just play basketball like he’s doing because he’s doing a great job so far all year.”
Simmons will eventually have to score more points as the playoffs go on, but if one watched Sunday’s Game 1 win and thought “Simmons had a bad game”, then one did not watch what he did all over the floor.
“There’s always gonna be some criticism for anybody out there no matter what,” said Seth Curry. “It is what it is, just go out there and keep doing the right things. We know what he brings to the table and his team and that’s the reason he’s out there for so many minutes. He brings a lot of good stuff to the floor. If he was hurting us, I’m sure he wouldn’t be out there.”