76ers' Doc Rivers 'All for' Ben Simmons Guarding Trae Young in Game 2 vs. Hawks

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 7, 2021

AP Photo/Nick Wass

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers is "all for" Ben Simmons guarding Trae Young in Game 2 of his team's second-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

If, as he tells it, the officials allow it.

"If Ben's allowed to guard [Trae Young], I'm all for it," Rivers said, per Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Levick noted Rivers explained one reason the 76ers didn't put Simmons on Young as much in Game 1 was the Hawks guard's ability to sell contact and get defenders into foul trouble.

As for the officiating, the 76ers shot 35 free throws to Atlanta's 21 in Game 1, which the Hawks won 128-124. However, Young shot a team-high nine free throws, and Simmons had four fouls during the game.

Philadelphia also didn't start consistently utilizing Simmons on Young until the second half. That helped make a difference, as Young scored 25 points before halftime and just 10 points after it as the Hawks nearly squandered a commanding lead in a fourth quarter where they were outscored by 12 points.

Simmons is one of the best defenders in the league as someone who can bother shooters with his size at 6'11" and also stick with quicker ball-handlers with his athleticism.

While Young is one of the best guards in the league at hitting difficult shots from beyond the arc and creating space for himself, he is also just 6'1" and figures to struggle to get some shots off against the much bigger Simmons.

Such a matchup will impact Game 2, which is something of a must-win for the top-seeded 76ers as they look to avoid falling behind 2-0 before the series shifts to Atlanta.

Rivers also understands that containing Young, which the New York Knicks were unable to do in their first-round series, will be key to the series. By bringing up how well Young sells fouls, he at least puts it on the officials' radar and is surely hoping they are a bit slower to blow the whistle on borderline plays involving the Hawks' go-to option.

Simmons will get his opportunity to slow Young on Tuesday as his team looks to pull even in the series.


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