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Doc Rivers Praises 'Special' Ben Simmons, Says He 'Sees Greatness' in 76ers Star

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 23, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons reacts after a dunk during the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Washington Wizards, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers had high praise for Ben Simmons after the star delivered a double-double in the team's 125-118 victory over the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs.

"I thought he was special today," Rivers told reporters. "... He's a treasure. He's something that you don't see a lot in this league."

Rivers added he "sees greatness" in Simmons, who finished with six points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists.

Simmons' performance was almost perfectly designed for the postgame discourse.

Jawn Gonzalez @JohnGonzalez

Sixers Twitter arguing about Ben Simmons in a win is always my favorite thing about the playoffs

His assists and rebounds speak for themselves. He was the primary facilitator of an offense that shot 49.5 percent from the floor and made 10 three-pointers. The 24-year-old also had a big impact on the glass, with eight of his rebounds coming on the offensive end.

However, Simmons scored just six points on nine shots and missed all six of his free throws.

His biggest supporters and biggest skeptics both came away with some form of ammunition.

As bad as last year's first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics was, the Sixers could reasonably argue the presence of Simmons changes the complexion of the series at least somewhat.

Now, Philadelphia doesn't have that handicap, so the pressure is squarely on the three-time All-Star.

Perhaps the 76ers don't need Simmons to be much of a jump shooter in order to win a title. One benefit of having a star player with an obvious flaw is that you know what you need to do from a team-building perspective to play to his strengths.

Should Rivers' squad exit earlier than expected, it could rehash the same discussions about whether the franchise needs to significantly shake up the roster in order to get closer to a title.

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