The 76ers scored 103 points against the NBA’s best defense.
Those not named Ben Simmons combined for 102 of them.
But Simmons’ point total in Game 2 of his team’s postseason matchup with the Celtics wasn’t even the worst part of his performance. Never considered a No. 1 scoring option, Simmons failed to do all the other things that made him the Rookie of the Year favorite during the regular season.
When Simmons had the ball, Boston made sure to wall off his passing lanes, forcing him to score against physical defenders one-on-one.
He finished 0-of-4 from the field, responsible for five his team’s 11 turnovers, tossing seven assists. And he didn’t exactly compensate in the rebounding department or with his usually solid defense.
With four minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Sixers trailing by six, head coach Brett Brown sat Simmons.
In 10 minutes, Simmons’ replacement T.J. McConnell scored four points and dished three assists to lead a comeback for a 93-91 lead.
Then Brown reinserted Simmons, and the team fell apart again.
Philadelphia was outscored by a game-worst 23 points when the rookie was on the floor.
4-4, 8 pts, 5 assists, 0 TOs, +16
0-4, 1 point, 7 assists, 5 TOs, -23
Sixers outscored 17-10 when TJ left game
Should Brett Brown have left TJ McConnell in 4th quarter over Ben Simmons
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) May 4, 2018
But Simmons refused to give his opposition much credit, insisting his struggles were “self-inflicted” in his postgame remarks.
The key to Boston’s strategy is that Simmons can’t shoot, so forcing him to be a scorer means he’ll have to do that from the basket’s immediate vicinity. Unfortunately for Philly, that space is already occupied by Joel Embiid.
If Brown and Simmons can’t find a way to free up his teammates teammates, and/or if Simmons can’t find a way to score in a clogged restricted area, this series, in which Boston holds a 2-0 lead, won’t be going on for much longer.