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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Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Ben Simmons will have his best game of the season

Say what you will about Ben Simmons’ postseason meltdown last time we saw him in Philadelphia. Say what you will about Ben Simmons the person, or how you think he’ll handle the pressure of the city’s pointed ire. But, here’s one thing we know about Ben Simmons: he’s keenly aware of the spotlight and his public perception. It’s not an insult; it’s a fact.

We have seen Simmons wake up for big games in the past. It was something of a specialty in the earlier years of his career. We all remember his 42-point masterclass against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz. It surprises no one that Simmons was locked in a stiff competition with Gobert for the Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and Simmons very much wanted that trophy. So, he scored 42 points and targeted Gobert relentlessly. When he wants to, Simmons can put on a show.

Now I have no doubt that Simmons would feel quite satisfied with an explosive game in Philadelphia. It might have been a tad more satisfying if Embiid and Harden were playing, but even so, Simmons undoubtedly wants to make the most of his return. Fans will question if he can, but let’s be frank: who’s guarding him in this game? Tobias Harris? Montrezl Harrell?

Simmons is coming off his two best games of the young season. Something has clicked into place for the 26-year-old. He dropped 22 points, eight rebounds, and five assists on 11-of-13 shooting in Brooklyn’s convincing win over Memphis on Sunday. The Sixers are unquestionably motivated to hand Simmons a loss. But the opposite is equally undeniable: Simmons wants this game bad, there’s no two ways about it. With the Sixers’ facing severe limitations on defense without Embiid, the setting might be perfect for Simmons to have his first statement game in a long while.

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