Ben Simmons took just three shots in the 34 minutes he played last night, but his defensive impact was a catalyst in the Philadelphia 76ers ’118-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2.
There is a reasonable separate discussion to be had on the payment almost $ 180 million to some of Simmons ’style of play, but asserting himself on defense last night helped him limit Trae Young from playing to his playoff average of 30.2 points and 9.8 assists per game. Young finished with 21 points and 11 assists, but did so while shooting 6-for-16, thanks in part to Simmons, accumulating a 38/14 shooting range between field goals and 3-point range. His totally respectable point was saved by an 8-of-9 display from the free-to-air line.
Young gave support to the Sixers ’defense for their most annoyance in Game 2 after Atlanta’s opening game of the shock victory.
“Obviously, Ben was watching me a little more tonight, but I had a lot of shots that I was open, and I didn’t fall,” he admitted.
Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor noted that Simmons and his fellow defense specialist Mattisse Thybulle almost shared the possessions on Young.
Simmons himself finished with just four points, seven assists, and two steals on a 2-of-3 shot. Simmons didn’t even protect Young for an entire game, and given that conversion is so common among NBA teams, he probably wouldn’t. will not be in these playoffs. But the defensive pressure from him and Thybulle (who offensively recorded two points on two shots in 23 minutes), with the team’s victory, masked his offensive inactivity: Like the type of team he leads n. ° 21.
Joel Embiid finished second in the MVP vote, as announced yesterday, and later became the first 76er since 2003 to score 40 points in a playoff game since Allen Iverson. The 40 also set a personal record for postseason points.
Defective as it appears on the surface, it actually shows what makes this Sixers team special when they click, even if the lack of excellent bidirectional players is something that others harbor. None of the remaining teams are perfect, and the Sixers have significant contributors throughout their rotation. In addition, Embiid’s dominance against a great defensive center in Clint Capela made a statement. Tobias Harris (22 points on the 11th shot from 19) and Seth Curry (21 points on the 8th shot from 13 of 13) effectively crossed the 20-point threshold, and Shake Milton added a 14 critical outside the bench, the impact of which was felt at the beginning of the fourth quarter with eight end-period points.
Harris was a toner, scoring four of the team’s first six points and 12 of the team’s first 16 points as part of a 20-4 run. But when the Hawks came close, dragging just 35-33 in the second quarter, it was Embiid who shot 10 points in a five-minute interval before the break. Embiid also had 17 points in the third quarter and added seven in less than four minutes during the quarter. It wasn’t just the production, but how the big man got it too.
Embiid’s 40 came through with 13-of-25 shots from the field, 2 of 5 from three, and 12 of 16 on free throws. As you can see in the video above, he created his opportunities in a variety of ways such as starting from the three-point line and leading (0:05), posting and fading (0:13), facing and fading (0). : 22), face and attack (0:30), face and back (0:59).
Just last week Embiid had he suffered a small tear from the lateral meniscus, and surprisingly was active less than a week later. But in the first two games of this series, he combined 79 points and 22 rebounds while shooting 54/38/84 and headed for the free throw line 31 times.
Embiid being unstoppable isn’t just about beating the Hawks obviously, and that’s where Simmons ’defense becomes a constant necessity, especially when in Young (More than four points on three shots helps, too, of course). That’s what the Sixers are relying on to drive their championship ambitions. Getting important contributions from Harris, Curry, Milton and Thybulle are also important, because in the playoffs, you never win without the role players. But it starts with his two top players, who led in very different ways last night.