The Philadelphia 76ers have dropped four consecutive games as Ben Simmons sits out with a raging flu. Not COVID-19. And the Sixers have gone 5-7 overall without Simmons in the starting five this year.
But the appreciation for all the dirty work Simmons does — passing in tight areas, driving to set teammates up, locking down the other team’s best player, running the offense from the point guard spot — sometimes gets lost since he refuses to shoot the ball. It’s unfair, but it’s reality.
On Monday, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report cobbled together his list of “The Weakest Link in Every Projected NBA Playoff Team’s Starting 5.” Simmons’ name curiously made the cut for the Sixers. There’s just not enough respect on the misunderstood star’s game.
Simmons has spent his whole career working around his lack of shooting, and he’s found success juicing the Philadelphia 76ers’ transition attack. His defense is unimpeachable: versatile, smart and consistent.
But Simmons makes it harder for Joel Embiid, the Sixers most important player, to dominate. Philly can’t station Simmons on the perimeter because nobody will guard him out there. Put the ball in his hands, and (duh) it’s not in Embiid’s. When Simmons is in the dunker spot, he brings a second defender into Embiid’s path.
Say it with me now: “Ben Simmons’ defense is important” #HereTheyCome
— Anthony Gargano (@AnthonyLGargano) April 23, 2021
Hughes expanded the criticism by competing Simmons to Golden State’s Draymond Green, citing their “limitations” one over their many strengths. He also referenced the game being harder for Joel Embiid when Simmons is out there, thanks to defenders giving up the perimeter. It’s an interesting argument, although not entirely true.
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Simmons Set to Miss Fifth Straight Game
Simmons will miss Monday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, per multiple reports. That means the Sixers will likely turn to newcomer George Hill to start for a second straight night. The team has also been giving increased minutes to rookie Tyrese Maxey.
Ben Simmons ruled OUT tomorrow – missing 5th straight game with the flu
Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris are BOTH Questionable pic.twitter.com/T29RrGvG0Z
— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) April 25, 2021
Head coach Doc Rivers wouldn’t give a timetable for Simmons’ return when asked about it on Saturday. The Sixers aren’t not going to rush their three-time All-Star back, not even if it costs them the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia also listed four players as questionable: Tobias Harris (right knee recovery), Joel Embiid (right shoulder soreness), Furkan Korkmaz (sprained right ankle) and Paul Reed (health and safety protocols).
More Concerned with Rest, Getting Healthy
Rivers hasn’t been the only one preaching rest over seeding. Veteran forward Danny Green talked about the need to get healthy at length last week when discussing their upcoming schedule. Yes, it would be nice to have their playoff rotation in place and gelling down the stretch but not at the expense of Embiid’s shoulder acting top.
“Grand scheme of things, we always look for big picture regardless of situation or scenario,” Green told reporters. “We don’t compare ourselves to other teams, though. But guys know their bodies here better than anybody in this league so if Joel feels he can play, you know, let him have at it. We’re going to need him. I think there is plenty of opportunities to put some money in the bank to rest him. We have some more games coming up where we can rest some guys, but it could be smart to rest him.”
🎙️ @JoelEmbiid mic’d up throughout his career!
— NBA (@NBA) April 22, 2021