Simmons revels in 76ers display: It felt like the Harlem Globetrotters

By Sacha Pisani 27 December 2020 7
Simmons revels in 76ers display: It felt like the Harlem Globetrotters

Ben Simmons likened the championship-chasing Philadelphia 76ers to the Harlem Globetrotters after their comprehensive win over the lowly New York Knicks in the NBA.

The 76ers stayed perfect with their second win from two games thanks to Saturday's 109-89 victory against the Knicks in New York.

Joel Embiid fuelled the 76ers – eyeing a first title since 1983 – with a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds, while All-Star team-mate Simmons had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Discussing the game, Simmons – the subject of trade speculation involving Houston Rockets star James Harden – said: "At one point it felt like the Harlem Globetrotters, we were passing the ball so much and moving it."

"We got the lead, lost the lead a little bit, but I think it was just our mentality, knowing we had to step up," Simmons said. "We have to hold each other accountable defensively and offensively. … We've got to play at a high level every night. We can't take breaks with anybody, especially with teams that we should beat."

76ers head coach Rivers, who replaced Brett Brown in the offseason, also earned his 945th regular-season victory to move 10th all-time in NBA history, surpassing Bill Fitch.

Simmons added: "He believes in us. He believes in everybody's ability. He's not going to lie to you and tell you to do things you can't do. For me, he tells me certain things. Like tonight, an example would be, 'Be assertive. Keep being aggressive. Attack the rim'.

"When I'm doing that, he's giving me praise and letting me know I'm doing a good job. And that just gives me more confidence to keep doing it, getting to the rim and making plays for my team-mates.

"But also, on the other side, he's going to keep it real with you. If there's a thing you need to work on, things that he sees out there that you might not see, he's going to let you know. That's all about just helping each other get better. And he's doing that with everybody, which is great."

Rivers also praised Simmons, who nullified the impact of Knicks star RJ Barrett at Madison Square Garden.

Barrett was just two-of-15 shooting from the field, while he missed all six of his three-point attempts, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists in a team-high 37 minutes.

"Ben, he's got so many skills," Rivers said. "And we're trying to get them all out of him. I thought defensively, he was terrific. He used his size, his length. His instincts are unbelievable, something I didn't know until now coaching him.

"And then on the other end, I thought with the pace that he played and forced actions — we got threes just because Ben Simmons pushed the ball up the floor, created actions in the paint and kicked out to guys. I thought he was terrific tonight."

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Sacha Pisani