Much has been made of Ben Simmons’ performance during the Philadelphia 76ers’ series against the Toronto Raptors and it is easy to see why. The second-year standout is averaging only 9.4 points and 4.6 assists per game through five games against Toronto and, when compared to season-long averages of 16.9 points and 7.7 assists per game, a stark difference appears.
With that in mind, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude of Turner Sports caught up with Simmons and asked about his offense. In the eyes of the young All-Star, it’s actually something on the other end of the floor that is throing him so far off his game.
As noted here, Simmons believes that his defensive assignment on Kawhi Leonard is making a mark on his offense, with Gold-Onwude passing along interesting insight.
“Sometimes I get so focused on defending Kawhi and keeping him in front that I sometimes slow down on offense and I lose a little bit of focus or intensity there,” Simmons reportedly said.
In some ways, it makes perfect sense that a difficult defensive matchup could affect the way Simmons is able to play offensively, particularly with the way Leonard has been cooking with the ball in his hands. Still, the Sixers can ill afford to have this little production from a player as important as Simmons and, simply put, the playoffs are taxing on everyone on both ends of the floor.
Game 6 will feature the Sixers with their backs against the wall at home and a big-time performance from Simmons would certainly help the team have a better chance to stay alive and force a Game 7. It remains to be seen as to whether the former LSU star can put together that kind of two-way effort against the Raptors, though, and he shared a bit of insight as to why that might be.