76ers

Ben Simmons has been magical in Joel Embiid’s recent absence

When Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was ruled out of Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals with a severely sprained ankle, rookie point guard Magic Johnson rose to the occasion and helped win it all for LA with a performance for the ages.

He put up 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in that breathtaking Game 6 performance.

The Philadelphia 76ers recently saw their star big man Joel Embiid go down with a broken orbital bone and their rookie point guard Ben Simmons has stepped up his game. No, nothing like the legendary Game 6 Magic had, but he’s been magical nonetheless.

Simmons was two rebounds shy from recording his second consecutive triple-double on Easter Sunday, registering 20 points, a season high-tying 15 helpers and eight boards in the Sixers’ 119-102 rout of the Charlotte Hornets. This comes on the heels of a 13 point, 12 rebound and 11 assist triple-double against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. It was his 11th triple-double of the season, four more than Magic had in 1980. It’s also the second most in NBA history for a rookie, Oscar Robertson put up a ridiculous 26 triple-doubles during his freshman campaign.

When speaking directly to Joel Embiid, Simmons told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Molly Sullivan following Friday’s game for him to get ready for the playoffs because “we’re gonna hold it down.”

Hold it down he has. That’s not what stars do, that’s what superstars do.

To put into context how impressive his triple-doubles have been this year, only LeBron James (17) and Russell Westbrook (24) have more in 2017-18 overall. The only other rookies to record triple-doubles this season are Lonzo Ball (2) and Dennis Smith (1).

Sure, the competition hasn’t been great the last two games, but the schedule for the Sixers down the stretch isn’t that difficult. The only teams they’ll face with winning records out of their final six contests will be the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks. That’ll be the barometer for Simmons and this Sixers team, to see how they’ll handle those squads without JoJo.

Even though Embiid isn’t playing at the moment, he’s still getting his shots up.

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

The Sixers have won 10 games in a row for the first time since the 2000-01 team began that campaign with 10 consecutive victories. The Sixers (46-30) remain a half-game ahead of the Indiana Pacers (46-31) for the No. 4 seed and a half-game behind Cleveland (47-30) for the third slot. Acquiring homecourt advantage for a playoff series without Embiid will be pivotal. Philly is 26-11 at Wells Fargo Center this season.

 


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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