Green explains how Simmons’ game reminds him of Lowry’s originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
If the Wizards were on the fence about whether to send extra bodies at Joel Embiid in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers believes Ben Simmons made their mind up for them.
“We talked about it before the game,” Rivers said following the Sixers’ 132-103 win. “We told him, ‘They’re going to do one of two things. It’s going to be single coverage and you have to be extremely aggressive, or they’re going to be extremely aggressive with the traps and you have to be patient.’ I actually thought what really set Joel up … I thought Ben’s attacks early to lead to threes led to them not trapping. And then that obviously opened up Joel.”
Embiid excelled against that single coverage, scoring 36 points. Simmons had 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting, nine assists, two turnovers and five rebounds. If he’d grabbed one more rebound, he’d be averaging a triple-double in the series.
Simmons assisted on 5 of the Sixers’ 17 three-pointers. Counting the playoffs, he’s assisted on 235 threes this season.
Danny Green, who drained five long-distance jumpers Saturday, was asked how Simmons compares to other shot creators he’s played alongside.
“He’s definitely up there,” Green said. “I’ve played with some great ones. He reminds me a lot of K-Low, Kyle Lowry, pushing the pace and being able to get to the paint, but finding guys and kicking the ball ahead. He has that type of style of play.
“Obviously other guys create shots off of double teams. He gets more of double team walls in transition, when teams try to build a wall and stop him. He’s able to find shooters and create three-point shots for us. So he’s definitely up there with creating shots, creating threes for our team. We don’t get a lot of them in half-court sets, so he puts that pressure on the rim and also creates a lot of perimeter opportunities for us.”
Per Cleaning the Glass, Simmons has been in the 99th percentile or higher each of the last three seasons in on/off transition frequency. That essentially means the Sixers play significantly less half-court offense when he’s on the floor.
The differentials aren’t as dramatic as with Simmons, but Lowry has indeed been similar in that respect. When he’s on the court, the Raptors have consistently had more transition opportunities.
Examining Simmons and Lowry outside of the ways Green described, there are obvious differences. Simmons is about 10 inches taller and capable of more defensively. Lowry assists on many threes, but he also attempts and makes quite a few. Lowry is a good free throw shooter and Simmons, who’s 0 for 9 from the foul line in the series, is not. Simmons is 11 years younger than Lowry and still learning playoff basketball.
Though Simmons has previously rejected positional labels, he’s a Lowry-esque point guard in the sense that he likes placing his teammates in positions to succeed.
He could easily tell that just about anyone he shared the floor with in Game 3 was in a zone.
“Certain shots,” Simmons said. “Danny loves the corner. He loves the trail three. Tobias (Harris) likes going downhill. He also likes the trail three, too. Joel’s always going to do his thing in the post. He caught fire from the top of the (key) with a couple. And then Seth (Curry), when he’s open, he’s open. He’ll shoot from anywhere.
“I’m always going to trust in my guys taking those shots. Whenever I can find them when they’re open, I love to see them let it fly.”