Ben Simmons Handled The Boos In His Return To Philly | But The Nets Are Still A Team With Bad Habits

Ben Simmons Returns To Philadelphia
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night Ben Simmons returned to Philadelphia for the first time since he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Ben 10 and his boys from BK took the floor against a shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers team and lost 115-106.

 

Ben Simmons Returns To Philly 

Sixers fans booed Simmons loudly every time he touched the ball and cheered vociferously at every miss or mistake. But he played well, totaling 11 points, seven rebounds, and 11 assists. But the Nets are still a team with poor habits that couldn’t beat the undermanned Sixers squad.

“I thought it was going to be louder,” Simmons said when asked about the crowd reaction.

Simmons is not a particular favorite among the fans in Philadelphia, despite earning three All-Star appearances, two All-NBA honors, two All-Defensive honors, and rookie of the year as a 76er.

His unwillingness to shoot the basketball, his poor play in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2021, and how he left the team last season has caused some bad feelings.

No matter. Simmons is on the Nets now and has strung together his best four-game stretch of the season. He’s looking rangy on defense and is aggressive on offense. The signs of the All-NBA and All-Defensive player are more consistent.

“I thought he was in attack mode, he was aggressive, showed a lot of poise through the course of the night,” Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said. “The experience to get through and get it behind him, really good.”

But this Nets team has poor habits and is still very flawed, despite having Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Head coach Jacque Vaughn was not pleased with the team’s defensive effort on Tuesday, which had been better lately.

“It’s really a mentality of us deciding that we’re going to play defense. The amount of mistakes we had at halftime was baffling for this group. We had to stop the tape because we didn’t have enough time to show them all,” said Vaughn postgame.

Can Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving And Kevin Durant Win A Championship?

Even with Ben Simmons finally showing a pulse, questions remain as to whether a “Big Three” of Simmons, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can win an NBA title. The Nets were soft on switches and could not keep their man in front of them all night. Georges Niang and Paul Reed looked like All-Stars going against the Nets porous defense.

In the eight games Irving missed due to suspension for promoting an anti-Semitic film, the Nets were 5-3; and other than the loss to the Sacramento Kings where they gave up 153 points, they played solid to good defense. In the two games he’s been back they are looking shaky on defense yet again.

Correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causality, but Irving has never been known as a good defender, and he was not good Tuesday night.

This team lacks players with defensive talent. Their best defensive lineup includes Simmons, Durant and Nic Claxton. The problem is you have two non-shooters with Durant and no matter what two offensive players you put on the floor, the spacing is still compromised.

The Nets will continue to run this team out there and hope that Simmons continues on this trajectory. Even if the team’s fortunes change, it’s a good time to hit the reset button and ship players out and bring back young talent and draft capital.