Ben Simmons is having a miserable time playing the Boston Celtics. His Philadelphia 76ers find themselves down 3-0 to the boys in green in their second-round playoff matchup, and much of it is because the Celtics have successfully neutralized the 76ers’ wunderkind point guard.
Simmons has thrived in his rookie season despite the lack of a jumper, but Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and company have taken Simmons’ only weakness and used it against him. The Celtics have defended Simmons playing way off of him, daring him to shoot while cutting off his usual passing lanes that make him so devastating as a 6-foot-8 point guard.
The results have been profound. Simmons is shooting just 48 percent from the field in this series, down from the 55 percent he shot in the regular season. His assists per game have dropped from 8.2 in the regular season to 7 against the Celtics, and his turnovers per game are way up, from just 3.4 per game in the regular season to 5.3 against the Celtics tenacious defense.
During a recent appearance on Fox Sports Radio, former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who has been breaking down games for his show “Detail” on ESPN’s new streaming service, was asked what he would do, were he in Ben Simmons’ position with his poor jump shot.
“Just aesthetically, I would say build that thing anew,” Bryant said.
Whatever Simmons does this offseason with his jumper, watching him in year two will be fascinating.