Ben Simmons has made his long-awaited debut in front of the Philadelphia faithful at Wells Fargo Center today against the Boston Celtics.
In a first half that saw the Sixers lead 50-46 at the main break, Simmons' versatility was on show. When Simmons was aggressive and driving to the rim, the Sixers were a far better team.
He finished the first half with the healthy stat-line of 9 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists.
Ben Simmons scores the FG... M Knight Shyamalan & Samuel L. Jackson approve! pic.twitter.com/IjV9UGEjnD
— NBA (@NBA) October 21, 2017
Simmons' ability to create for his teammates is so important and coupled with his rebounding nous, it results in Simmons being vital on both ends of the court for his Philly team.
The Sixers built a lead in the third quarter, but the Celtics slowly got their way back into the contest and were able to gain the lead in the fourth quarter.
Simmons talks about that fourth quarter run from the Celtics.
"They just got more aggressive, attacking, and obviously Kyrie [Irving] started dominating, taking over the ball. It's just what I saw." Simmons said.
Led by Irving, the Celtics were able to run out 102-92 winners and sink the Sixers to 0-2 on the season.
Simmons finished his first home game with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, along with 5 assists and 4 turnovers.
Despite not being able to close out the game when it was there to be won, Simmons stressed the learnings that come from games like this one.
"It's a learning experience for us with a lot of young guys, but we have to capitalise - especially in the third quarter after we come back out." Simmons said.
With such a young core, there is no doubt that exciting times are ahead for the Sixers. With Embiid (11 points, 14 rebounds), Saric (9 points, 10 rebounds), Fultz (6 points, 3 rebounds) and Simmons all playing in just their second regular season game together, there is bound to times when the team struggles to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Outscored 20-33 in the final quarter, the Sixers offence went stale.
After the game, Sixers coach Brett Brown was asked whether he thought Simmons should've been more aggressive towards the basket.
"It's part of Ben's evolution going forward because he really does do an amazing job of getting to the rim. He can get close to the rim." Brown said.
"So, is it one more dribble? Is it more coming to jump-stops? Is it more up-and-under and going through people and looking for more and-ones? It's all part of it. But the good news is, that he has the skill to get him there and now we have to help develop him to finish once he gets there."
The Sixers take on the Raptors in Toronto tomorrow morning.