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Donovan Mitchell on Ben Simmons' Struggles vs. Celtics: 'Happens to Everybody'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2018

BOSTON, MA - MAY 3: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles against the Boston Celtics during the second quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round of the  2018 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on May 3, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell downplayed the struggles of fellow NBA Rookie of the Year contender Ben Simmons so far during the Philadelphia 76ers' series against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

On Friday, Tim MacMahon of ESPN provided comments from Mitchell after Simmons scored just one point in the Sixers' 108-103 loss Thursday night.

"It happens to everybody," he said. "He's a good player. Good players respond back, and it's all about the response."

Simmons scored 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists in the series opener, a 117-101 defeat, but he also turned the ball over seven times and recorded four fouls.

The first overall pick of the 2016 draft missed all four of his shots in Thursday's loss, and the turnover woes continued with five.

"I think it was mainly what I did to myself," Simmons told reporters after Game 2. "Mentally, I was thinking too much, overthinking the plays. Wasn't just out there, flowing, playing the way that I play, which is free. I think, obviously, [the Celtics] have a game plan, I know what their game plan is and I've got to play my game."

The drop in production comes after the Australian point guard nearly averaged a triple-double as the 76ers rolled past the Miami Heat in the first round. He put up 18.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the field.

Meanwhile, Mitchell has been dealing with his own efficiency issues in Utah's second-round clash with the Houston Rockets. He's connected on only 34.9 percent of his shots, including 20.0 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, but the Jazz still managed to steal a game on the road.

Mitchell is right about his rookie counterpart, though. The Sixers need Simmons to bounce back in a major way Saturday when they return home to the Wells Fargo Center looking to avoid a 3-0 hole.

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