BROOKLYN — The boos came down every time he touched the ball. Like rush hour traffic, they’d start, then stop, and repeat the exact same cycle over and over again, a seemingly endless barrage of booing, then cheering, then more booing, with those in the Barclays Center hammering home their point every chance they got. It was, routinely, in direct conflict with The Notorious B.I.G.’s definition of the Brooklyn way.
In response to all of this, the subject of those boos, Sixers do-everything guard/forward Ben Simmons, put forth the most brilliant playoff performance of his young career. Simmons was, to quote Philly head coach Brett Brown, “exceptional,” putting his fingerprints all over the game en route to a 131-115 win over the Nets.
Of course, the Sixers desperately needed this from Simmons. Despite warming up before the game and testing his injured knee, Philadelphia was without the services of Joel Embiid. The All-Star center sat on the end of the bench watching his team get the upper hand on Brooklyn, stealing back homecourt advantage following the Nets’ win at Wells Fargo Arena in Game 1.
Simmons, save for a bit of a hectic stretch at the end of the third quarter, was in complete control. The ambidextrous Aussie threw down a postseason career-high 31 points on 11-for-13 shooting from the field and a 9-for-11 clip from the free throw line. To boot, he pitched in nine assists, four rebounds, three blocks, and a pair of steals. Brooklyn, as is oftentimes the case for opponents when Simmons is locked all the way in, had zero answer for his ability to get into the paint and either score at the rim or distribute to his teammates.