Sixers: 3 things to expect from Ben Simmons’ return to Philadelphia

Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Sixers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Sixers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

2. Sixers and Nets will show proper esprit de corps

Expect both teams to show up to play tonight. For the Sixers, it’s a chance to put a pin in the Ben Simmons saga — to show up a player who some undoubtedly felt betrayed by. Or at the very least, annoyed by. Teammates expressed public support of Simmons early in his decision to hold out last season, but sooner than later it became clear that guys would really rather not talk about him ever again.

For the Nets, it’s a chance to support a teammate in the most hostile environment he’ll ever face. There have been rumblings about Brooklyn’s own uneasiness with Simmons of late, but he’s there and he will continue to get public support from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the team’s two superstars. Simmons, meanwhile, will no doubt have a chip on his shoulder.

I expect this game to be physical and high-energy. Even severely shorthanded (Tobias Harris is likely to make his return to the lineup, but Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey are all OUT), Philadelphia will have the backing of a rabid crowd and the motivation to repay Simmons’ exit. The Nets absolutely blew Philadelphia out of the water in their only game post-trade last season, but it was in Brooklyn and Simmons didn’t play. There’s even more reason for them to want this game specifically.

On the other hand, I expect Simmons’ interactions with former teammates and coaches to be cordial. Don’t expect any skirmishes. That’s not really in Simmons’ DNA to begin with, and the primary sources of conflict from his days in Philly (Doc Rivers and Joel Embiid) will both be on the sideline.