76ers

Ben Simmons turns Saturday's boos into cheers Monday in Sixers' blowout win

Ben Simmons turns Saturday's boos into cheers Monday in Sixers' blowout win

Ben Simmons did not have a great day Saturday.

The Sixers’ point guard had an uninspiring performance in the team’s Game 1 loss. The crowd let him know about it. He then let the crowd know how he felt about them voicing their displeasure.

It went over as poorly as you would’ve expected.

But as quickly as Philadelphia fans will turn on you, they’re just as quick to open their arms back up. 

Simmons on Monday won the Wells Fargo Center crowd back over in a 145-123 drubbing of the Nets in Game 2 of the first-round series (see observations)

Aggression seemed to be the buzzword for Simmons at practice Sunday and he made sure it wasn’t just talk. 

“Ben’s ability was driven through just a really aggressive mentality,” Brett Brown said. “Connected a lot of the dots on defense and then to the [51-point third quarter] we had, was significant. When I go back and start accumulating, ‘How did we get that many points?’ or ‘How did we reduce them to this many points?’ driven by they had zero three-point shots, you’re going to see [Simmons] featured a lot.”

Simmons took the ball to the rim off the opening tip. He missed the shot, but it noticeably set a tone for Simmons and the entire Sixers’ offense. 

Simmons went on to record his second career playoff triple-double, posting 18 points (8 of 12 shooting), 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Four players in franchise history recorded a triple-double in a playoff game while shooting at least 65 percent: Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks and now Simmons. Only three players in NBA history have averaged at least 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the playoffs (minimum 10 games): Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Simmons.

For as much as we’ve all gone over Simmons’ struggles in the postseason, it’s fair to note that he’s had his share of special performances.

Monday night will go down as one of his finest.

“I mean, he’s the point guard,” Joel Embiid said. “When you see him play with that type of energy, it picks you up, it lifts you up and it makes you want to play the same way. I thought tonight Ben was fantastic, and that’s the energy we need for the rest of this series and the playoffs.”

Simmons gave the sellout crowd some energy as well.

Midway through the first quarter, Simmons grabbed the rebound off a D’Angelo Russell missed three. He took it all the way to the rim with a strong finish against Jarrett Allen. On his way down the other end of the court, he raised his arms, imploring the crowd to get louder.

And they obliged. It was a cool moment that signified Simmons and Sixers fans moving on from Saturday’s mess.

While offense is great, Simmons also got the place jumping with his defense. He’s done a fantastic job on Russell, holding the All-Star guard to 16 of 41 shooting (39 percent) through two games. He shut Russell out during the Sixers’ dominant third quarter.

When he made a great defensive play, stealing a bad Allen pass away from Russell and finishing at the other end, he evoked the great Allen Iverson, cupping his ear to the crowd.

“I was thinking about the boos from last game,” Simmons said jokingly. “I got a lot of love for this city and the fans here. Every time I step on the floor I try and play as hard as I can. I was just showing that. The hustle I try and give each and every game is not only for my teammates, my family, it’s for the city.”

All seems to be forgiven.

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Tobias Harris keeps the Sixers entertained on their bus ride to Toronto

Tobias Harris keeps the Sixers entertained on their bus ride to Toronto

Around 10:30 p.m. Monday night, we were blessed with a Ben Simmons Instagram Live video of "DJ Tobi," Tobias Harris, on the Sixers’ bus from the airport to the hotel.

“There’s a soul plane and there’s a soul bus. You’re on the soul bus, ya dig?”

DJ Tobi then proceeded to interview all the players, coaches and team personnel who entered the bus, as you can see in the videos below, which do contain profanity. 

“State your name, where are you from and where are you going,” head coach Brett Brown said Tuesday morning, laughing about last night’s bus ride. “And when there is a lull, he's got Spotify hooked up, and he's got some hip hop going on.”

“DJ Tobi,” Matisse Thybulle laughed, struggling to find the words for Harris’ performance. “He was putting on a show for everyone. … It was funny because you were seeing people out of their comfort zone.”

With the rigors of an NBA season, and through all the travel, bus rides and plane rides, the value of that type of team bonding can go underestimated.

“It's team bonding,” Simmons told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “We're a pretty close group. We like to have fun and there are a lot of different characters and personalities on the team. … It's awesome. But that's just who we are as a team, everyone just likes to have fun, everyone has good personalities and means well."

Of course, it’s easier when you’re winning, and the Sixers delivered one of their most impressive defensive performances of the year in their win over Brooklyn, led by Simmons and Thybulle.

“We could carry that good energy over,” Thybulle said of the win over the Nets. “But it definitely help to keeps things light because the travel gets tedious and boring.”

For the Brown, it’s yet another characteristic he’s seen blossom out of Harris.

“Leadership comes in all different forms … and he does it naturally,” Brown said.

“It’s what makes team sport, for me, as enjoyable as it gets, when you can win with people that you respect and trust that care. And this group does.”

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Jameer Nelson, Phil Martelli react to troubling Delonte West video

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AP Images

Jameer Nelson, Phil Martelli react to troubling Delonte West video

Troubling video surfaced Monday on social media of former Saint Joseph’s great and NBA player Delonte West.

The 36-year-old appeared to get into a physical altercation and then was recorded spewing profanities with his hands behind his back. The video contains inappropriate language.

On Monday night, West’s former college teammate Jameer Nelson and head coach Phil Martelli voiced their concern and offered support.

West has opened up in the past about his battle with bipolar disorder and run-ins with the law. The most notable incident was when he was pulled over in Maryland on a three-wheeled motorcycle and subsequently arrested and charged with speeding and two counts of carrying a handgun.

When he was on Hawk Hill, West starred during his sophomore and junior seasons alongside Nelson. The duo led St. Joe’s on an incredible run in 2004. The Hawks were the No. 1 team in the country at one point and earned a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They lost in a thriller in the Elite 8 to two-seed Oklahoma State.

After choosing to forego his senior season, West was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 24th overall pick. He last played in the NBA with the Mavericks in 2012 and his professional career ended in 2015 after a brief stint in the G League.