By Dylan MacKinnon (Producer at 97.5 The Fanatic)
On an average night, with this roster, the Sixers do not need Ben Simmons to score 20 points. If he can score in transition, get double digit assists, rebound the ball, and play great defense, that will usually be enough. But Monday night was not an average night.
Joel Embiid was, to put it mildly, off his game. He had a grand total of 0 points. He couldn’t even get to the foul line. Embiid had absolutely nothing going on offense. And while 0 points is extreme, and unacceptable, bad games happen. There will be nights where the Sixers primary scorers, mainly Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Josh Richardson have off nights, and those are the night Ben needs to step up.
But he did not. He had his normal night. He made some good passes, scored in transition, and played good defense. But only had 10 points. On top of that, he made a bad transition pass late in the game, which cost them an easy chance to take the lead. And then took an awful shot in the waning seconds when he had time to get a better shot.
Most of the talk after the game was about Embiid’s terrible game, as it should have been. Embiid cannot be that ineffective, and he hurt them even more by forcing shots to try and get out of it. But 0 points for him is an aberration. He will still be near the top 10 scoring at the end of the year. Simmons not picking up the scoring slack on those types of nights, is not an aberration.
The Sixers need Simmons to have that extra gear. For him to step up on nights where someone else on the team needs help. We have seen other players on this team do that. We have seen Tobias have great nights if Embiid gets a game off. We saw Richardson put up 30 on a night Simmons could only score 4 in Miami. But when do we see Simmons pick up the slack scoring wise for anyone else?
He has the ability to score. We haven’t seen it this year as much, but we have seen it in prior years where he can take over a game on offense. So why, on a night where Embiid couldn’t score, did we not see him even try to score? Why on a night where Embiid scored 0, did Ben take only 8 shots?
I have been an ardent Simmons supporter. Despite his lack of shooting, they are a better team with him on the court, and most nights he makes a big difference without scoring. And as I said, most nights, 14-16 points is enough. But it wasn’t last night. They needed Ben to take charge, and he didn’t. That can’t keep happening.