The polarizing TV and radio voice complimented the Sixers in finally overcoming their biggest obstacle in the Eastern Conference after a 118-115 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, but pointed at the variety of circumstances that took place for them to win:
“Ben Simmons — this is not an insult, this is a compliment — Ben Simmons is costing the Philadelphia 76ers a world championship,” said Smith. “He is so good, with everything else they have available, if Ben Simmons can shoot a jump shot — it's a wrap. They can beat anybody.”
The panelist also brought to light Brett Brown's plan of playing Simmons at the baseline while letting Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris operate on the perimeter.
Smith also pointed to Joel Embiid's monster night of 37 points and 22 rebounds and how unlikely it is to repeat itself, even less a night in which he shoots a crisp 20-of-21 from the foul line. The Sixers also benefited from the ejection of Marcus Smart, which while self-inflicted, allowed shooters to operate with more freedom without the constant pressure of a perimeter hound hawking them one possession after another.
The Celtics have also not fouled Embiid as often as they did on Wednesday during past meetings, making this an oddity of a game, rather than a reflection of what could come in the playoffs.
The Sixers have managed to keep Simmons' shooting woes collected with the addition of another shooter in Harris, but the postseason will really test how long they'll be able to hide his limitations before he's truly exposed for his reluctance to venture out of his comfort zone.