Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Ben Simmons shares his thoughts on returning to Philadelphia in viral clip

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All games can count equally in the win and loss column, but some mean more for each player. One of those games that the boys have circled on their calendars is scheduled for tomorrow night when the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Brooklyn Nets. This will be Ben Simmons’ first return to Philadelphia since stepping onto the field for the Nets. The three-time All-Star was asked about the matchup when speaking to the media following the team’s most recent win over the Grizzlies. The reporter asked if Simmons felt fans could be more forgiving than he expected, to which Simmons immediately shut down, replying, “In Philly? Come on, I know what’s coming.”

This is one of those rare occasions when Simmons shows some personality and lets his media vigilance slip. It also came after his best performance of the season, in which he had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Simmons is well known to Philadelphia fans from his four seasons with the team. He’s rightly expecting boos as many Sixers fans have been waiting for an opportunity to give him their opinions after last year’s holdout and trade demand. The former No. 1 overall winner returned to town for the first time with the Nets last season but did not feature in the matchup. Simmons was met with boos from the crowd as he sat on the bench. The Nets drove to a 129-100 win in which they shot 56% from the field compared to the Sixers’ 32.3%.

That return to the court in Philadelphia was one of Simmons’ he’s looked forward to in the past. During an interview with ESPN’s Nick Friedell, published Oct. 14, Simmons expressed this opinion at length. As he said: “I can’t wait to go there, yeah. But for me everything is an experience and a learning situation. So for me I’m able to learn something I’ve never gone through before. I have never been traded and have never played against a team that I was traded by. Kev has, Ky has, a lot of people have, but I’ve never been in that situation so – you have to go through it. Ky went back to Boston and he didn’t play well, but it’s a lot. We are human too. We want to go out there and prove everyone wrong.”

In contrast, Joel Embiid has done his best to downplay the hype surrounding the matchup. After the Sixers’ recent loss to the Timberwolves, Embiid was asked if he should face the Nets. The superstar replied: “There’s another game on the schedule. I don’t know these guys, I have nothing against these guys. It’s Brooklyn vs. Philly. Hopefully I feel better for this game. It’s the same goal – try to go out and win,” Sixers said.

As Embiid mentioned in his comments, he was struggling with a variety of injuries early in the season. After seemingly overcoming the plantar fasciitis and illness problems that plagued him earlier in the season, he suffered a sinister-looking ankle injury in the recent loss. Embiid made it tough for the rest of the matchup and was crucial to the Sixers’ success, but had a noticeable limp on the court and his ankle was wrapped when speaking to reporters after the game.

The injury problems have been a significant hurdle for the Sixers so far. James Harden will be absent from rehab from a tendon sprain in his right foot. Tyrese Maxey is also in a shoe after suffering a minor fracture of his foot against the Bucks. Additionally, Tobias Harris missed the last two games with a hip injury but seems on track to return before the matchup with Brooklyn.

It will be a difficult challenge for the Sixers to beat their Eastern Conference rivals while so understaffed. In contrast, Brooklyn will have Kyrie Irving back on the court after serving his suspension. The team has started to progress 4-2 in the last six games. It will take an impressive effort from Embiid and the rest of the Sixers to get to the top. Considering the regular rate Embiid delivers these performances and fans will surely bring energy, it cannot be ruled out.

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