Ben Simmons has the best game for the Nets ahead of Philadelphia return

NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving returned from his eight-game suspension Sunday evening at Barclays Center for the Brooklyn Nets in opposition to the Memphis Grizzlies, however it was Ben Simmons who was the star of the present on the courtroom.

Playing alongside Irving and Kevin Durant for simply the seventh time, Simmons had his third straight good particular person efficiency in what was simply his best game since the finish of the 2020-21 NBA season, ending with 22 factors on 11-for-13 taking pictures to go along with eight rebounds and 5 assists in Brooklyn’s 127-115 victory.

“I’m simply staying centered,” Simmons mentioned. “I’m taking it day-to-day. That’s truthfully what it’s. I’ve received to take it day-to-day.

“Me personally, if I begin studying every little thing that is happening and getting psyched out, that is not good for me. So for me, I simply wish to keep centered, take it day-to-day, and I hold saying it however that is what it’s for me. Just hold constructing on good days and staying locked in.”

That has definitely been the case over the previous week, as Simmons — who scored in single digits in every of his first eight video games this season — constructed off higher performances on the street in opposition to Sacramento and Portland final week together with his best game, by far, in a Nets uniform again residence in entrance of Brooklyn’s followers Sunday evening.

After trying hesitant to shoot at instances earlier in the season, Simmons attacked the basket again and again in opposition to the Grizzlies — who had been with out stars Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. attributable to accidents — with a verve and aggression that stood out to everybody watching.

“I believe instantly you noticed power that he performed with whether or not it was his tempo and his assault of the rim, and it was a relentless assault in the direction of the rim and actually simply spraying the basketball [around],” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn mentioned. “The tempo that he created for us tonight, it’ll make it onerous for individuals to protect us.”

Now, although, the focus for Simmons and the Nets will shift to Tuesday evening, when they’ll head down Interstate 95 to face Simmons’ outdated staff, the Philadelphia 76ers, in what might be the first time Simmons will play at Wells Fargo Center as a customer

Asked about his feelings going again to Philadelphia, Simmons smiled.

“I’m able to play,” he mentioned, earlier than including, “Something happening?” as the room broke into laughter.

Then, requested about whether or not sufficient time has handed for the unhealthy emotions from his departure to simmer down in the City of Brotherly Love, Simmons had an incredulous look on his face earlier than the query was even completed.

“In Philly?” Simmons mentioned, drawing extra laughs. “I do know what’s coming. That’s half of the game. Philly followers, one factor about Philly followers is they’re unbelievable. They are die-hard Philly and they’re every little thing Philly, no matter it’s. I respect that about the metropolis. It’s a sports activities city. I used to be speaking to I believe Yuta [Watanabe] earlier than the game about what it is wish to play in Philly, and it is an unbelievable alternative to placed on no matter jersey it’s.

“That’s Philly, and it is a distinctive expertise.”

It’s the one Simmons assuredly has ready for him Tuesday. When the Nets visited final season after the Simmons-James Harden swap and he was solely on the bench in avenue garments, boos rained down on his head. There’s little doubt there might be an much more boisterous response when Simmons takes the courtroom for the first time — particularly with Simmons, usually enjoying heart for the Nets today, seemingly having to spend time guarding former co-star Joel Embiid.

But Simmons, who mentioned Brooklyn would seemingly “need to ship 4 guys” at Embiid to try to gradual him down, mentioned that whereas he is aware of how the followers will react to him, he nonetheless appreciates the solely metropolis he’d lived in as an grownup up till being traded to Brooklyn in February.

“I used to be 18 years outdated coming into Philly, so it is actually the solely place I’ve lived as an grownup. So I’ve rather a lot of love for that metropolis,” he mentioned. “People do not know that, however rather a lot of my best mates are from Philadelphia. My brother nonetheless lives in Philadelphia. So regardless of the scenario, no matter occurred, occurred. But I received rather a lot of love for that metropolis nonetheless, so I stay up for happening there and enjoying.”

And now that Simmons is enjoying properly, the Nets are trying ahead to seeing if he can proceed to play this manner.

One one who is not getting enthusiastic about how Simmons seems to be, although, is Durant.

“I anticipate this from Ben,” Durant mentioned, “So when he performs properly, I’m not going to get enthusiastic about it.”

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