Ben Simmons shot 5-10 in game four to finish with 10 points while adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He didn’t turn the ball over in the loss.
Normally that would be a good enough line if the other starters are hitting their shots, but Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris were not last night. That’s why Sixer fans were hoping for the pissed off, disrespected, and aggressive Ben that we saw in the Brooklyn series, the player who took the game by the scruff of the neck and just bullied his way to the rim at will.
Jimmy Butler was asked afterward what he and the team can do to help Simmons, and I thought this was an intriguing answer from him:
If you ask Ben, I tell him every time down the floor to attack. Every single time. I’m cool with, if coach calls a play and you feel like you’ve got the mismatch, by all means attack. Coach will be like ‘why did you do it?’ and I promise I will say that I told him to do it. I want him to be aggressive like I told Joel to be aggressive. Attack. We’re not gonna win without you guys. You have to be ready to attack at any point in time. Damn sure in transition. When he has the ball in transition, don’t pass the ball. Attack every single time. That’s how we’re gonna win this game.
It’s all true. And Brett Brown would certainly be fine with any audible that resulted in Ben driving to the rim and attacking a mismatch, especially in transition.
We just haven’t had a ton of that in this series, and of course part of that is because Toronto is simply a better defensive team than Brooklyn. They do a good job of meeting Ben in transition, getting bodies back, and not giving him easy stuff at the rim.
The Sixers only put up 10 fast break points last night and 13 in game three, losing that battle to the Raptors in both games. Brett Brown’s team averaged 15 in the regular season, which was good for 10th in the league. In the playoffs, it’s down to 11.9, which places the Sixers 7th out of the 8 remaining teams. Only Houston is scoring fewer fast break points per game, and they’re a walk-it-up, half court isolation and pick and roll team.
Specifically, these kinds of plays are what Ben normally converts more often than not:
And on a play like this, I thought he might try to take it himself, but he instead dished off to the open man and then cut to the rim to take advantage of Toronto scrambling in defense:
Finally, these plays are rare, but if you botch your pick and roll coverage, Ben is quick enough to get downhill even in a half court offensive situation:
I think we all agree that the Sixers are better when Ben Simmons can establish himself early.
Will we see aggressive Ben in game five?