The Philadelphia 76ers showed up and showed out again on Wednesday night as they took a 2-0 lead in their first-round matchup with the Washington Wizards. Sixers big man Joel Embiid had a quieter night due to the Wizards double-teaming him more than usual, which opened up more opportunities for guard Ben Simmons.
While the Aussie had just six points in the series opener, he set the offensively for the Sixers in Game 2. Embiid spoke out on Simmon's impact, via USA Today:
“He needed to,” said Embiid. “With the way they were guarding me with just the gravity, I got guys open. He was a recipient of that. He was just aggressive whether it’s playing one on one when the other guy’s not helping.”
“I just told him I was like ‘You got all this space and all the time in the world. Just attack and just be aggressive’, the Sixers big man went on. “He’s physical, he’s athletic, and he can make plays. He was great tonight and we’re going to need him to keep being that way.”
Simmons was indeed a key part. He notched a team-high 22 points for the Sixers alongside Embiid, while also grabbing nine boards and dishing out eight assists.
While he's been criticized frankly all year for his lack of scoring, it was the perfect way to silence the critics. Doc Rivers knows just how important Simmons is for this Sixers team in so many different ways, therefore it's just a plus when he can put up 20+ in a night while facilitating and crashing the boards at a high level.