NBA

Simmons out of Nets clash but 76ers coach Rivers positive after 'productive' meeting

By Sports Desk October 22, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said while disgruntled All-Star Ben Simmons remains away from the team, he took positives from Friday's meeting.

Simmons – who has demanded a trade – was suspended for Wednesday's NBA season-opening win over the New Orleans Pelicans due to "conduct detrimental to the team" following reports he was ejected from practice after Rivers grew frustrated with his lack of engagement.

The Australian has also been ruled out of Friday's showdown with star-studded Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center.

Reports of a meeting between Simmons, Rivers and his team-mates emerged on Friday, with ESPN claiming the former number one pick was not mentally ready to play and needed time to step away.

Speaking afterwards and prior to tip-off against the Nets, Rivers told reporters: "I felt good up and down throughout and I kept saying that, things do change.

"That still doesn't mean it's gonna work out perfect or it could, but I always believed that. I've never wavered from that. I've said that 100 times and I still stick with it."

Rivers added: "It was a productive day, but it's a start. That's the only way you can get going, you gotta start, and today was a start."

Simmons – an elite defender who signed a five-year, $177.2million contract extension in 2019 – and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers, who were eliminated in the semi-finals.

The 25-year-old had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs against the Hawks last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star, according to Stats Perform.

 

Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It was the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career-worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

"He is part of the team," he continued. "We have certain rules, obviously, the other day, that didn't happen, but today was a good day.

"Most people, we look at problems instead of the possibilities and I think if we focus on the possibilities, just in life in general, you have a pretty good chance of going to a good place. If you focus on the problems, you're probably gonna continue to have problems."

Including the playoffs, Philadelphia are 9-2 in their last 11 games against the Nets. Additionally, the 76ers have six straight home wins in the series, starting with Game 2 of the first round of the 2019 postseason.

Four Philadelphia players scored 20-plus points against New Orleans, with Joel Embiid and Furkan Korkmaz each having 22 and Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey finishing with 20. The 76ers had zero games last season with four 20-plus point scorers, according to Stats Perform.

Related items

  • 'Welcome to the playoffs' – Brown hails Celtics' mentality after OT win over Pacers 'Welcome to the playoffs' – Brown hails Celtics' mentality after OT win over Pacers

    Jaylen Brown hailed the Boston Celtics' never-say-die attitude after his last-gasp 3-pointer teed up their overtime win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

    The Indiana Pacers were just 6.1 seconds away from a 117-114 road win in the opening game of the series on Tuesday, only for Brown to sink a 3 over Pascal Siakam from the corner to level things up.

    Two Tyrese Haliburton free throws put the Pacers back in front in overtime, but Jayson Tatum scored 10 of his game-high 36 points in the additional period as Boston triumphed 133-128.

    Jrue Holiday supported Tatum with 28 points, while Brown added 26. All three players finished with three steals apiece as Indiana committed 21 turnovers.

    Speaking after the dramatic finale, Brown said: "Welcome to the NBA playoffs! You've just got to manage your emotions. Anything can happen. 

    "It's not over until the final buzzer sounds. It's not over until it’s over. We found a way to win the game at the very end."

    Holiday echoed those sentiments, adding: "We've seen crazy stuff happen all the time. 

    "We don't think we've lost a game until we've actually lost the game. That's part of the reason why we were so resilient towards the end.

    "A couple of turnovers, a great shot, a great look by JB, or at the other end if we make a couple other shots that were wide open it could be a completely different game. 

    "We're just the type of team that's going to keep on fighting no matter how long and no matter what it takes."

    The Celtics host Game 2 on Thursday as they target a first NBA Finals appearance since 2021-22, when they were runners-up to the Golden State Warriors.

    Asked how Boston will approach Game 2, Tatum said: "Don't relax, it'll be different circumstances. The first two rounds we won our Game 1 by a wide margin, so maybe human nature played into that. 

    "But tonight being a close game, going into overtime, we certainly felt like we should have won and we could have played better."

  • NBA: Tatum, Brown key Celtics' OT win in Eastern Conference finals opener NBA: Tatum, Brown key Celtics' OT win in Eastern Conference finals opener

    Jayson Tatum scored 10 of his 36 points in overtime and the Boston Celtics capitalised on some sloppy play by the Indiana Pacers for a 133-128 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.

    Jrue Holiday had 28 points and Jaylen Brown added 26, none bigger than his tying 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in regulation.

    The Celtics finished with 11 steals - three each by Brown, Tatum and Holiday. They became the first team in NBA playoff history to have three players record 25 points and three steals in a game. 

    Game 2 is Thursday night in Boston.

    Tyrese Haliburton had 25 points and 10 assists for the Pacers, who scored 56 points in the paint against a Celtics team missing injured 7-footer Kristaps Porziņģis. The Pacers, though, committed 21 turnovers.

    Indiana twice turned the ball over with a three-point lead in the final 30 seconds of regulation. Brown’s 3 from the corner with Pascal Siakam in his face tied it at 117.

    Tyrese Haliburton sank three free throws after he was fouled with 1:46 to go in overtime to put the Pacers ahead 123-121, but Tatum completed a three-point play 34 seconds later to give Boston the lead for good.

    Tatum’s 3 following another Indiana turnover with 43 seconds left extended the lead, and he hit two free throws with nine seconds left to seal the win.

  • Victor Wembanyama makes history with All-Defensive team selection Victor Wembanyama makes history with All-Defensive team selection

    San Antonio Spurs star Victor Wembanyama became the first rookie to be voted to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team when the league unveiled the voting on Tuesday.

    Wembanyama received 98 of a possible 99 first-team votes to add to an impressive list of accolades after his first NBA season.

    Rudy Gobert, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, was the only unanimous first-team selection.

    Gobert and Wembanyama were joined on the first team by the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Herb Jones.

    Gobert was voted All-Defence for the seventh time in his career, all on the first team.

    Adebayo, long considered a top-tier defender, was selected to the first team for the first time in his career. Even the veterans, however, were appreciative of Wembanyama’s rookie campaign.

    “Coming into this league, obviously he had high expectations because he's 7-3 and shooting step-back 3s. I think a lot of people paid attention more to that than what he actually did on the defensive end,” Adebayo said of Wembanyama. “So, for him to get first team, first come around, it's obviously a great accolade for him.”

    Wembanyama led the league with 3.58 blocked shots per game, over a block more per game than any other player. The towering Frenchman was also eighth in the league at 10.6 rebounds per game and ranked in the top 25 with 1.24 steals per game.

    This was the first season of position-less voting for the All-Defence teams, leading to a strong preference for interior defenders, but perimeter players were well-represented on the second team.

    The Chicago Bulls’ Alex Caruso, the Orlando Magic’s Jalen Suggs, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jaden McDaniels and Boston Celtics backcourt mates Jrue Holiday and Derrick White were voted to the All-Defensive second team.

    The league will announce its three All-NBA teams on Wednesday.

     

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.