Doc Rivers can’t fathom criticism of Ben Simmons, especially after the three-time All-Star became just the sixth player in NBA history to have at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists in an NBA play-off game.
The Australian superstar became the sixth 76ers player to record 15 or more assists in a post-season game and the first since Allen Iverson in 2005.
Yet the focus for many remains on Simmons’ scoring, or lack of, as he netted just six points in a 125-118 home victory over Washington in the opening game of their first-round series.
“Only in Philadelphia,” Rivers said on Tuesday when asked about Simmons’ critics.
“If you guys don’t know the treasure you have by now, then shame on everyone because he’s been fantastic for us.
“He creates points every single night for us. When Ben was on the floor, we were really good.
“I’m amazed that people don’t see what he does. We’re so caught up in the amount of points he scored… Does it matter if Ben had all 125? Would we be mad that Joel (Embiid) didn’t score?
“Who cares who scores as long as we’re scoring. … When Ben plays, we score more points.”
Simmons missed all six of his free throws and his shooting deficiencies often overshadow his all-around game, including his exceptional defence.
“He’s a big guy and he plays guard,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who scored 33 points in Sunday’s game, said.
“It’s not like he’s a power forward or a centre guarding me. He’s very mobile, agile, and he’s strong. So that propels him.
“And the fact that he wants to play defence. He’s a willing defender. You don’t always see that.”
The 76ers will host the Wizards on Wednesday night before the series moves to Washington.