The Brooklyn Nets rolled through December and into the New Year — but they stalled in recent games. After a ridiculous 12-game winning streak, they fell 2-2 in their last four games, including a tough loss to east-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday night.
To make matters worse, the loss was spoiled even more by Ben Simmons’ performance. He had nine rebounds and 13 assists but failed to record a single point and shot 3-0 from the field. However, after the game, Kyrie Irving sent Simmons a motivational message.
“He just has to be himself. We’re not going to put too much pressure on him,” Irving told the New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield. “We’re not going to allow that one particular game or other games where he scored eight points, four points, it doesn’t matter. It’s up to us as a team to get points together and if he gets his chances we just want him to be aggressive.”
Throughout Brooklyn’s massive winning streak, Simmons found a good rhythm and role at the Nets, playing alongside two of the all-time top scorers. During their winning streak, he averaged 7.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game on 57.1% shots from the field.
However, with Kevin Durant sidelined with an MCL sprain, the Nets will need a little more from Simmons in the points column. Guys like TJ Warren and Seth Curry can help fill in the gaps, but Simmons needs to score a little more.
Irving didn’t have a good night against the Celtics either. He had 24 points, two rebounds and six assists, but shot just 9 of 24 from the field and 3 of 11 shots over the three-point arc.
After his rough night against the Celtics, Simmons spoke about the need to be aggressive. He said he thinks he gives up the ball too often in places where he could attack and try to score.
“I think it starts with being aggressive and knowing that my team needs that.” Simmons told Erik Slater about Clutch Points. “I think I pass the ball way too often when I know who I am. I know I have to go to the brink and get buckets.”
Throughout his career, Simmons has never been the world’s top scorer. However, he used to drive more than he does today. on NBA todayESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne pointed out his lack of drive, noting that it was unacceptable for a man as talented as himself.
“Ben Simmons drove to the basket early,” Shelbourne said Jan. 9. “He was fifth in drives to the basket in the NBA five years ago. He used to average about 10 drives to the basket per game. This year, 3.0 powers a game. That’s not enough for a guy like Ben Simmons.”