Ben Simmons issues warning for Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have been viewed by many as the team to beat in the NBA with their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, but Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons does not seem all that concerned about them.
The Sixers claimed sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with their win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. Simmons was asked about Philly’s upcoming game against the Nets on Wednesday and whether the two teams have a budding rivalry. He downplayed it and said the 76ers are more focused on the reigning champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Rivalry? I mean if they keep that same team, definitely, but it’s going to be hard to do that,” Simmons said, via Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. “We’re going for the past champs — the Lakers. They were the ones that won the championship so you got to give respect to them. Obviously Brooklyn has a lot of talent, but at the end of the day, there’s only one ball and you got to play defense.”
Simmons prides himself on his defense and said winning Defensive Player of the Year is a goal of his this season. The Sixers currently rank seventh in the NBA with 108.3 points allowed per game. The Lakers are second with 105.9, and Anthony Davis is the biggest reason for that. Brooklyn has allowed 114.4 points per game and ranks 24th in the NBA, so Simmons has a point.
The Nets are obviously capable of lighting up the scoreboard, but defense becomes more important in the postseason. Harden’s defense has been mocked so ruthlessly in the past that people have even made compilation lowlight videos. He and his teammates would be wise to use Simmons’ comments as motivation.