The Bucks are riding high after a dominant performance against the Chicago Bulls earlier today, their third successive victory under interim head coach Joe Prunty. While the past seven days have seen Milwaukee stabilise their season, they will face another tough challenge tomorrow afternoon (AEDT) in the form of Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Unsurprisingly, Matthew Dellavedova and his fellow Milwaukee Bucks will be ready for Ben Simmons.
The 76ers head to Milwaukee after an entertaining defeat at the hands of Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tomorrow’s contest will see Simmons challenge fellow countrymen Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker for the second time in his professional career.
Ahead of the contest, Dellavedova spoke to The Pick and Roll and explained the challenge of playing against Simmons in the NBA.
“He’s a unique player,” Dellavedova said. “That size, athleticism and skill. You can tell from the way he is playing that he knows how to play and that’s an underrated aspect of his game.”
Despite being overlooked for an All-Star berth, Simmons remains the runaway leader for Rookie of the Year. Milwaukee got a first hand look at the Australian’s dominance earlier this month, when Simmons collected 16 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds in a resounding 76ers victory.
“He’s having a great year,” Dellavedova added. “He’s really patient and definitely not playing like a rookie.
“The way he controls the game. It’s going to be exciting to see where his career can go. But we need to get the win tomorrow.”
The impressive start to Simmons’ career has Dellavedova dreaming about what lies ahead with the Boomers. “It makes me excited for the national team,” he noted. But when the ball tips in Milwaukee tomorrow, national alliances will be temporarily parked in the pursuit of victory.
“When we are playing against him, we just need to make sure we get the win,” Dellavedova said.
Appreciation for Simmons’ talent extends beyond his fellow countryman. Milwaukee’s superstar players are just as fond of Australia’s rookie phenom.
Giannis Antetokounmpo called Simmons a great player and explained that he is one of the best players in the Eastern Conference.
Bucks guard Khris Middleton was equally complimentary, when asked about opposing Simmons.
“He’s a talented player,” Middleton said. “He doesn’t shoot any threes and he won’t shoot many from the mid-range, but he’s a smart player.
“He knows the game. Knows where to find his guys. Knows how to attack the paint. He knows how to play out their offence which is really good.”
With Simmons drawing the attention of basketball fans all around the world, Thon Maker has noticed greater interest in Australian basketball during his sophomore season.
“There is definitely more attention,” Maker explained. “Last year I didn’t have a lot of Australian reporters, but everywhere I go now, in each city, there is either an Australian reporter or a question about Australia. It’s pretty cool.”
Milwaukee and Philadelphia face off tomorrow in what could be a preview of a match-up that dominates the Eastern Conference for the years to come.
“The 76ers are a really good team," Antetokounmpo explained. “A dangerous team. They want what we have and we want what they have.
“Guys like Joel Embiid. We need to do a good job of containing him and being right there defensively and helping one another.”
Listening to the Milwaukee players, and you can’t help but think a bit of friendly competition is slowly growing between these two Eastern Conference starlets. We predicted this could be the case last year and it appears a rivalry centered around Australia’s NBA stars is brewing nicely.