The Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, are a matchup of two very young teams, both having talent but different stratospheres when it comes to being potential contenders. In a game which wasn’t even close after the first quarter, the 76ers got the Bulls on their heels and never let up in a 115-105 victory.
Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric all racked up amazing stat lines in the victory but it was the play of the point guard, Simmons, which stood out the most. Simmons had even more responsibility in the Philly backcourt than usual He not only racked up a very impressive triple double but did so at an astounding pace, achieving it almost two minutes into the 3rd quarter.
Ben Simmons finishes with a 19-17-14 line. The complete list of players to do that in a game since 1963:— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) January 25, 2018
Wilt Chamberlain (10x)
Russell Westbrook (3x)
Oscar Robertson (2x)
Magic Johnson (2x)
Larry Bird (2x)
Simmons showed off his amazing passing ability, and why he can be a generational talent in the way he can be a matchup nightmare.
(1:25-1:32) This play by Simmons occurs after a Lauri Markkanen put back dunk and the Sixers are just getting across half court and into their offense. With Simmons at point guard, Philadelphia is able to create matchup problems in terms of opposing defenders. Here the primary defender on Simmons was suppose to be Justin Holiday. But as soon as Simmons passes the Wells Fargo sign on the Sixers side of half court, Amir Johnson comes and sets a back screen on Holiday but then quickly rolls to the basket. Nikola Mirotic, who was guarding Johnson, immediately switched to Simmons as Holiday ran back with Johnson. It appeared Chicago was content in the matchup of Mirotic vs. Simmons as the power forward was in similar size to the point guard. It seemed Mirotic was all set but then with Johnson running back and Holiday following him, a lane opened up and Simmons took it with one quick move to his left. Mirotic attempted to slide over but was met by the tall frame of Johnson. It left only Holiday as the only option to stop Simmons from getting to the basket. Holiday initially jumped up to try and contest Simmons but he quickly realized how fatal of a mistake it was. All Holiday could do was watch Simmons rise up, hang in the air of a couple of seconds, and throw it down on him.
(4:39-4:50) In this play, Simmons displays his dazzling passing abilities which were so highly talked about when he was coming out of LSU as a potential NBA draft prospect. The defender on Simmons is David Nwaba and he does a good job of initially getting by Joel Embiid’s screen and doesn’t have to switch with Robin Lopez which surely would have caused some major problems if they did. But Embiid does a good job re-setting his screen to the other side towards the paint. Given Simmons lack of outside shooting, Nwaba smartly goes under the screen and dares the rookie to shoot the ball. While this is happening, Dario Saric is located at the top of the three-point line. He gets a pick from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot who initially acts like he’s going to get the pass from Simmons in the paint but then defects and sets a screen on Saric’s man in Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen does a good job of getting past the pick but by the time he does, Saric is a good distance from him and has already began to dart to the basket. Saric’s cut around the same time Simmons received the screen from Embiid. As soon as Simmons sees Saric, he fires a dart to big man and threads the needle between three Bulls players. The pass is right on the money and leads Saric straight to the basket. It was like a football pass which leads the receiver to the part of the field he is suppose to be at the end of the route. The vision and willingness to make the pass is not something you see from many players in the NBA let alone a rookie.
After a year off due to injury, Ben Simmons has proven a lot of doubters wrong. If he can keep up this production along with the play of Embiid, the 76ers are looking like a future force which could run the East. Against Chicago, who it must be said was missing their own starting young point guard, they gave a preview about their potential.