Ben Simmons

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Ben Simmons says 'no pressure' on the Sixers

Dave Uram
April 12, 2019 - 2:32 pm

Ben Simmons was asked how much pressure is on the Sixers to deliver this postseason in light of heightened expectations.

“No pressure,” Simmons confidently said prior to Friday’s practice, shaking his head as he cut off the reporter who asked the question.

“Why no pressure?” Another reporter followed up.

“It’s a game,” Simmons said. “It’s our job at the same time, but we’re coming out here to compete. If we go out there and don’t try hard, and don’t put the work in, then obviously we’re not going to be happy, but if we go out there and play hard, that’s all we can ask for.”

At the same time, Simmons said the expectations are “to try and win a championship.”

Thus, Ben, the pressure is on, especially if Joel Embiid isn’t available to play because of left knee soreness that won’t go away.

Simmons strides on being one of the best players in the game. He often talks about wanting to compete with the greats and beat everybody, not just certain players.

His numbers in year two were relatively the same as his rookie season—solid across the board. His weaknesses are no secret, with the most glaring being the fact that he doesn’t shoot jumpers in games. That flaw was exposed in the second round against the Celtics last season. It’s a big reason the Sixers lost the series.

But, Simmons is still a great player and a legit All-Star for many reasons—his natural ability to create, facilitate, drive and play defense. If Embiid, the other Sixers' All-Star, won’t be available to start the postseason, or in a worse case scenario, throughout the playoffs, Simmons must take charge and find a way to make up for that production lost.

The Sixers' starting five has barely played together. In fact, it’s only been 10 games, and a big reason for that is Embiid missing 14 of the last 24 games with his left knee soreness.

“Personally, I don’t think so,” Simmons said when asked if the starters need more time together. “I think we’re all good enough. Our IQs are high enough to be able to perform at this level and compete.”

Brooklyn’s Jared Dudley told Sportsradio WFAN in New York on Friday that they’re going to leave Simmons wide open until he proves he can hit his shots.

If that’s the case, it wouldn’t hurt Simmons to make them pay, at least once, because at some point in his career, Simmons will need to add the basic fundamental of shooting a jumper to his game.

While it’s unlikely that starts in this important playoff series, he can still make a tremendous impact, considering he averaged over 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steal against the Nets this season, while shooting over 54 percent from the field.

Simmons needs a big series against Brooklyn, especially if Embiid isn’t on the court.