The Sixers beat the Nets at home on Wednesday night, 137-133. Got a little hairy there in the fourth quarter, but James Harden hit a couple of big threes and they got the W despite playing swiss cheese defense for large periods of time.
Ben Simmons finished with 12/5/5 in 29 minutes and had zero interest in going to the rim here:
Ben Simmons wants nothing to do with Joel Embiid 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/b9l7DK1g2I
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 26, 2023
Didn’t even look at the rim. That was the case for most of the night. He finished 5-7 from the field and had a spurt where he tried a couple of jump hooks in consecutive possessions, but largely he wanted nothing to do with the ball in the paint, didn’t attack downhill, and wasn’t very aggressive.
If anything, it makes me re-appreciate Brett Brown’s motion offense and the way he used Ben. Long gone are the days of Simmons flying down the floor in transition, swinging the ball around, and finding JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli coming off of DHOs. He looks like a bystander out there, still grabbing boards and moving the ball when it finds him, but he doesn’t go looking for it. He stands in the dunker spot and watches Kyrie and others work the perimeter.
This is what Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said about Simmons’ second half and finishing the game on the bench:
I think it’s overall the message I kind of talked about before the game: we’re going to get every guy, and that’s including Ben to value every possession. To play hard every possession. And just because you play the first half, it doesn’t mean you’re going to play the second half. We really want to get to a point where your teammate is dependent on you. Dependent on you to do your job every single night and every single possession. Ben showed more ability to play with force in the second half, which paid off, which is what we need, which is great for our team. And then down the stretch, with us being down, I just wanted to space the floor and get more shooting out there. See if we would climb back into the game no matter what the size was or anything.
He’s averaging six points, seven rebounds, and eight assists this month, down from December and November, when he was showing shades of his previous self. It’s just hard to believe this was a guy playing 35 minutes a night, scoring almost 17 points, and grabbing 8-10 rebounds while throwing 8-10 assists with regularity. Even from a neutral standpoint you have to wonder what the hell happened to him.
“Fuck Ben Simmons” chant in Philly pic.twitter.com/ZzLVbHgNOX
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 26, 2023