Regardless of what Donovan Mitchell might imagine, Ben Simmons is a rookie by definition and had no qualms letting his opponents know that, whereas he could also be enjoying his first season, he already has the mindset of a hardened playoff veteran.
Forward of Recreation 1 towards the Miami Warmth, Simmons mentioned he did not have any pre-game nerves and was “ready to play”.
Play he did, ending with 17 factors (5-13 from the sector), 14 assists and 9 rebounds — falling simply shy of his 13th triple-double of the season — because the Sixers took a 1-Zero lead of their best-of-seven collection with their 130-103 win. Simmons’ 14 assists had been the second most all-time by a rookie in his playoff debut, behind solely Magic Johnson’s 16.
“Playing a team, like the Heat, you gotta come in and be locked in the whole game,” Simmons mentioned after the competition. “There are no breaks. That’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed with this first [playoff] game than the regular season is you’ve got to be locked-in the whole game.”
Simmons opened the primary quarter with an aggressive mentality, attacking the rim and discovering open teammates when Miami’s Justice Winslow used his size to restrict Simmons’ drives to the rim. Should you had been utilizing a race automobile as an analogy to explain the Australian’s begin to Recreation 1, you’d say he was within the crimson proper from the tip.
The Sixers’ level guard mentioned he was extraordinarily targeted previous to the sport.
“I was just locked-in the whole time,” he mentioned. “I try not to change [routine] too much before the game. I like to get here nice and early, get through my routine, stretching.”
Simmons has performed with a poise that belies his inexperience all season, incomes the reward and respect of each the teaching workers and his teammates. J.J. Redick mentioned he did not anticipate the magnitude of the second to change Simmons’ strategy within the Sixers’ playoff run.
“Ben is not really affected by pressure,” Redick mentioned at morning shootaround. “I think he rises to the occasion. There’s a competitive juice that he has for big games. He takes things personally; he cares, he wants to win. Those are all attributes that will serve him well in the playoffs.”
The Sixers have been enjoying with out heart Joel Embiid since March 28 due to an orbital fracture and concussion sustained towards the New York Knicks. In his absence, Simmons’ personal sport has grown as he is turn into the point of interest of a 76ers workforce that has been thriving enjoying at a sooner tempo with out their injured centre. With out Embiid, the 76ers have gone 9-Zero, and are presently on a 17-game profitable streak.
“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves playing without Jo, and knowing we can compete at the highest level when he’s not here,” Simmons mentioned.
An enormous purpose for the workforce’s means to proceed to progress with out Embiid has been Simmons’ means to shoulder the duty of carrying the workforce. Regardless of his tender age, Simmons has flourished because the Sixers on-court chief this season.
“I think I’ve been put in a position to where I have to be one of the leaders even though it is playoffs, or whatever the case is. I’m one of the youngest guys, but that’s what I want to be so it’s no problem,” he mentioned.
“For me, [it’s] just being more aggressive, attacking the rim, knocking down free-throws when I get the opportunity, and just moving the ball, playing the way I play.”
In a scary forewarning for the Warmth, Simmons says he desires to hold the identical mindset he had Saturday into Recreation 2 on Monday.
“I’m ready to play the next game,” he mentioned. “I feel good, but I’m not satisfied.”