Sixers star Ben Simmons demands Trae Young assignment
Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young absolutely torched the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half of their 128-124 Game 1 victory on Sunday. Young scored 25 of his team-high 35 points over the first two quarters, and he also dished out seven assists before winding up with 10 for the game.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers opted to use Danny Green as the primary Young defender to start the game, but it didn’t work. Philly threw some different coverages at Young over the course of the game and finally had some success in the second half thanks in part to increased aggression and physicality.
With a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Ben Simmons on the roster, it would make sense to give him the Trae Young assignment given his ability to lock down on the perimeter with that aggression, physicality, athleticism and length. Simmons wants the challenge:
Simmons on whether he thinks the matchups will get switched so he can check Young next game: "I probably will do that, I want to do that."
Says some of it depends on whether the refs actually allow him to be physical and play defense
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) June 6, 2021
With Young cooking early, the Hawks ran up a 26-point advantage on the top-seeded Sixers. Philly finally started to make a surge when it ramped up the defensive intensity, and things really got interesting in the final few minutes as Atlanta started to fall apart. The Hawks were able to hold off the Sixers, but things got real dicey.
Philly needs to bring that kind of intensity from the start, and that should begin with Simmons guarding Young. Worrying about the refs is understandable given Young’s foul-baiting ways, but Doc Rivers can’t be too concerned about that. Simmons is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate for a reason, so he should be setting the tone and taking that tough assignment from the very start.
Green and Matisse Thybulle will get their chances on Young as well, but Simmons should get the first crack. He obviously wants it and deserves it.