Dominant, incredible, disruptive, amazing, etc. There’s a whole long list of words you could use to describe the way Ben Simmons played today. In the midst of one of the best performances of his very young career, Simmons and the Sixers toppled the Nets by a score of 117-111.
The afternoon matchup began how the last few Sixers games have gone, with Simmons being uber aggressive early on. He was attacking in transition, catching lobs in the half-court, and repeatedly finding open shooters. Tobias Harris helped his fellow co-star out by knocking in two consecutive threes to start the game.
However, the success for Philadelphia was short-lived. Brooklyn came clawing back mainly on the backs of their two young centers. With regular starter Deandre Jordan still healing from his finger injury, the duo of Jarrett Allen and rookie Nicolas Claxton had the center duties for today.
The two dominated for the majority of the second quarter, combining for 20 points and 7 rebounds in the first half. Both Al Horford and Jonah Bolden alike had serious troubles guarding either of them.
The game seemed out of reach for the majority of the third quarter before Philly rolled out their “small ball” lineup. With Simmons at the 5, Brett Brown surrounded him with smaller guards and the team went to work. Simmons along with some help from Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, and Raul Neto, led the Sixers storming straight back into it.
Al Horford hit some huge shots in the fourth quarter (19 points total) and the Sixers stifling defense was enough to shut down the Nets.
The Nets turned the ball over 22 total times and the Sixers combined for 12 steals and 6 blocks (Thybulle and Simmons accounted for most of those).
Historic Night for Ben Simmons
Simmons was absolutely surreal in today’s victory. He stuffed the stat sheet in almost every way imaginable, and then some. His final stat line on the night looked like:
- 34 points (ties career-high)
- 12 assists
- 12 rebounds
- 5 steals
- 2 blocks
- 12-14 FG
- 10-14 FT
Not only did Simmons tie his career-high for points in a game, but he became the first player in NBA history to record a stat line of this magnitude (since steals began being recorded back in the 70s). Oh, and not to mention this happened to be his first career 30-point triple-double as well.
This also extends his streak of games with 20 or more points to five. Simply exceptional stuff from the 23-year-old point guard.
Matisse “The Thief” Thybulle
Entering into today’s game, a player that Sixers fans were seriously worried about was Joe Harris. Harris has repeatedly torched the Sixers in the past, and with more shots to go around due to Kyrie Irving sitting out, many expected him to have another big game.
Rookie Matisse Thybulle was matched up on him from the jump, and boy did he do an incredible job. Thybulle held Harris to just 12 points on 1-5 shooting from downtown. Harris also recorded 5 turnovers and 6 personal fouls.
Thybulle has completely transcended the Sixers defense this year. He provides flexibility to guard multiple positions, and enters games with a level of energy that seems to lift everyone else up.
Thybulle ended the afternoon with 4 steals and a block, furthering to develop his case as not only the best rookie defender, but simply one of the best defenders in all of basketball.
The Sixers stay on the road as they head up north to take on their old rival: the Toronto Raptors. With Embiid still out due to injury, this will be quite the test for Ben Simmons and company.
(Here are some Simmons highlights from the game for your enjoyment)
Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports