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Don't forget about Ben Simmons' defense

Friday's Sixers victory over the Indiana Pacers — moving the Sixers to over .500 for the first time since the oh-so-magical beginning to the 2013-14 season — will undoubtedly be remembered as the JJ Redick game, and rightly so. Jonathan Clay hit maybe the three biggest shots of the night, all threes, all in the final two and a half minutes, all with the game largely still in the balance. The second of them was one of the bigger shots in Sixers regular-season history, with the clock expiring and Redick shooting against his body, swishing nonetheless. Redick had actually been in something of a slump from three lately — just 3-19 across his last four, including an uncharacteristically rough 1-6 against Atlanta in his first game back from injury — but bouncing back with 31 on 8-12 from deep will certainly re-instill whatever confidence lost. 

But even if last night's game was JJ Redick's Process Bar Mitzvah, I still wanna talk about Ben Simmons today. He had a rough-ish shooting night from the field, only hitting 5-13, but still racked up his second triple-double of the season, with 14 points, 11 boards and 11 assists, including dimes on two of those final three Redick triples. He even hit all four of his free throws, bringing his average for the year at the charity stripe all the way up to ... well, 59 percent still isn't great, but it's better than 55 percent anyway. 

Yet with all this, what really impressed me with Simmons last night was his late-game defense, which absolutely bailed the Sixers out late in this one. He made the Sixers' two biggest plays on the other side of the ball, first snuffing out a Darren Collison drive in transition that should've been an easy layup after Joel Embiid blew a wide-open dunk at the other end. Then standing tall against Victor Oladipo — in which Oladipo (who torched the Sixers for 31) tried desperately to draw a foul on Simmons after pump-faking, but which Simmons side-stepped while still contesting. He also ended with two steals and a career-high three blocks, making for maybe his most complete all-around performance on the season. There aren't a lot of things this guy can't do. (Besides, y'know, shoot with the correct hand.) 

So yeah, the Sixers are a winning basketball team. They've mostly won the games they should've won and lost the games they shouldn't — consider the two Houston games a draw — so you don't want us to get too far ahead of ourselves, even if we do currently sit in fifth in the East. We're still basically a middle-of-the-pack team at the moment. But we've got talent, we've got shooting, we've got versatility, we've got infinite upside, and now we're even winning close games. As long as we've also (mostly) got health, may this regular season never end.