Ben Simmons Shines as Joel Embiid, 76ers Stun Stephen Curry, Warriors

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 1, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 31: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers handles the ball during the game against Andre Iguodala #9 of the Golden State Warriors on January 31, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/Getty Images

Ben Simmons had 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals as the Philadelphia 76ers upset the Golden State Warriors 113-104 on Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

Joel Embiid posted 26 points and 20 rebounds for the 34-18 76ers, who have won four of five.

Stephen Curry scored 41 points on 14-of-27 shooting and knocked down 10 three-pointers for the 36-15 Golden State Warriors, whose 11-game win streak was broken.


Ben Simmons Proves He'll Be an All-Star Mainstay

Embiid committed seven turnovers and Jimmy Butler scored zero points after 24 minutes.

If you were told those statistics before knowing the result of the 76ers-Warriors game, it would seem safe to assume that the Dubs coasted to a victory.

But Simmons had other ideas.

After being named to his first All-Star Game on Thursday evening, Simmons showed why he's in line to make plenty more before his career is over.

First, Simmons was the 76ers' first-half rock while Embiid and Butler struggled. After six-and-a-half minutes, the Warriors were up 23-12 and looked like they were going to run Philadelphia out of Oracle Arena. But the 22-year-old led the 76ers on a 15-4 run thanks to four points and a steal that eventually led to a Simmons-assisted bucket.

Simmons had 15 points, three assists and three steals at the half, but his stats only told part of the story, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic noted:

Derek Bodner @DerekBodnerNBA

Ben Simmons is absolutely everywhere defensively. Transition D, jumping passing lanes, denying off the ball. He's almost single-handedly keeping the Sixers in this one.

Simmons also revealed the significant problems opposing teams face when dealing with the former LSU star's versatility. Of note, his passing was on point all night, as was his second-half chemistry with Butler.

This tap pass on the fast break gave the 76ers an 87-80 lead:


Simmons (23 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST) with the perfect tap ahead to Jimmy B! Headed to the 4th on @NBAonTNT: #HereTheyCome 95 #DubNation 86 #JoelEmbiid : 20 PTS, 15 REB, 5 AST #StephenCurry : 33 PTS, 8 3PM, 5 AST https://t.co/iMuDBLfZM5

And this behind-the-back dish granted Philadelphia a double-digit cushion:


Ben & Jimmy making plays! 👀🔥 #HereTheyCome @NBAonTNT https://t.co/AOBxUK8qI3

The issue is that Simmons can do these things and also throw down an alley-oop while barely jumping:


Ben Simmons times the follow for the @sixers! #HereTheyCome 81 #DubNation 80 4:00 left in Q3 on @NBAonTNT https://t.co/QWlLS2dCw2

Or challenge DeMarcus Cousins head on and emerge the victor:


Ben Simmons muscles it up and off the glass! #HereTheyCome 106 #DubNation 98 3:00 to play on @NBAonTNT https://t.co/R5RGnjZLLR

Simmons does have to work on his free-throw shooting (just 58.2 percent entering the game), and he hasn't hit a three-pointer yet in his career.

But in games like this, it's fair to wonder whether those facts will even matter given everything else he brings to the table.

He had just one fewer offensive rebound (five) than the entire Warriors starting lineup. He scored his 26 points on just 13 shots.

And he led all 76ers with three steals for good measure. Mike O'Connor of The Athletic praised Simmons for his efforts on that end:

Mike O'Connor @MOConnor_NBA

Might get outshined by his offense, but that was undoubtedly the best I've ever seen Ben Simmons defend. That was a glimpse into his ceiling.

Rich Hoffman of The Athletic summed up Simmons' performance in what stands as the 76ers' best win of the year:

Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann

Ben Simmons has been fantastic tonight. One of his best performances, along with the Cleveland game at the end of last year.

Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown offered lofty praise for his point guard, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

“I thought Ben (Simmons) played his best NBA game... I don’t know it’s because he’s now an All-Star,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.

And Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice tied the bow:

Kyle Neubeck @KyleNeubeck

I know I tell you guys not to overreact to individual regular season games but this game should be a launch pad for Simmons long-term. He has been unbelievable on both ends.

Simmons and the 76ers made a strong statement Thursday evening, to the point where you can wonder if this night acted as Philadelphia's launching pad for an NBA Finals run.


DeMarcus Cousins' Vision Gives Warriors Another Unfair Dimension

The Warriors shouldn't be too disappointed with the loss. They had just won 11 in a row and were without All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson, who shot 53.5 percent from the field in January. Also, the 76ers aren't exactly a pushover, having won nearly twice as many games as they've lost.

Cousins is also on a minutes restriction as he returns to form off a ruptured Achilles suffered in January 2018. But in limited action, the big man has shown he can make a great contribution even when his shot is not falling.

Only Draymond Green had more assists Thursday than Cousins, who had five in his first six minutes and six on the evening. Cousins also had three steals and one block.

The former Kentucky star's passing was on display. He assisted on the Warriors' initial three buckets and four of their first five. Mark Medina of the Mercury News praised Cousins' "strong passing" for a couple easy layups.

The fifth assist wasn't the prettiest dish, but Cousins notably had the foresight to kick it out to Curry for a good look from three following a strong offensive board:


Steph from distance... PLUS THE FOUL! ☔️ #DubNation 23 #HereTheyCome 12 Midway through the 1st on @NBAonTNT https://t.co/P9VRFv26dq

Cousins has averaged 4.0 assists per game (for a stellar 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio) despite playing anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes over his first six contests with the Warriors.

His vision (and its impact) isn't just symbolized by box-score numbers, though.

Marcus Thompson of The Athletic pointed out Cousins' screens will give Curry plenty of open shots. Medina also mentioned Cousins' mere presence on the court: Because the 76ers paid more attention to him in the early going, other Warriors were able to get easier looks at the hoop.

The scariest part is that Cousins is just six games removed from a year-long absence from the game. What happens when the minute restriction is lifted and any leftover rust goes away?

We've seen glimpses of that so far as the Warriors have gone 5-1 with Cousins. The inevitable conclusion may result in a dominant postseason a la their 15-1 playoff in 2017.


What's Next?

Both teams play Saturday. Golden State hosts the Los Angeles Lakers, and the 76ers travel to Sacramento to play the Kings.


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