Ben Simmons was at a bad place in Philadelphia: the Wells Fargo Center, his former home that had turned against him. Every time he touched the ball, jeers erupted from the crowd. There were several expletives heard.
However, Simmons was not enthused about that location following the Nets’ 115-106 loss to the 76ers on Tuesday night.
Simmons remarked after his first game in the arena in 520 days, “I’m in a good position.” “Coming in here to play basketball makes me happy; I’m doing what I love. Being there and having that experience was incredible.”
Simmons, playing his first game in Philadelphia since the 76ers’ Game 7 defeat to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on June 20, 2021 — in which he avoided a dunk, leading to criticism from Embiid and coach Doc Rivers — appeared physically and emotionally well. He ended the game with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals.
After rebounding his own miss and converting a layup in the first half, Simmons raised a finger to his mouth to calm the fans. When the audience appeared to lose energy, chants of “F–k Ben Simmons” would break out to re-energize the crowd.
Ben Simmons attempts a jumper during the Nets’ defeat against the 76ers, 115-106.
NBAE Images via Getty
Simmons, who last season failed to report to the 76ers citing mental health difficulties, anticipated the worst and emerged unharmed.
Simmons remarked, “I anticipated it to be louder.”
Fans were never louder than when Simmons, who hit 33 percent from the free throw line during the Hawks’ series-clinching victory, was put to the line.
Simmons, who grinned on one of his trips to the free-throw line, missed his final two tries in the third quarter, to the pleasure of the audience.
“I believed he was in the assault mode. He was aggressive, according to Jacque Vaughn. “Exhibited great composure throughout the evening. Competed in both directions. I believed it was a positive experience for him to endure and put behind him.”
The experience will be beneficial because the jeers in Philadelphia may never cease.
The Nets as a team are accustomed to the jeers.
“This occurs in every arena. Everyone wants our team to fail, stated Kevin Durant. “Nobody likes Ben. Nobody likes [Kyrie Irving]. Nobody likes myself. It could be that that at any road venue. We have no choice but to cope with it.”
Yuta Watanabe sat with a stiff right hamstring. Vaughn referred to the emerging small forward on a daily basis.
“We’ll see how he feels in the morning, but [Wednesday in Toronto] is not ruled out just yet,” Vaughn said.
Nic Claxton, who was absent from Sunday’s victory over the Grizzlies due to personal circumstances, returned to the starting lineup and scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Forward T.J. Warren, who has not played since December 2020 due to repeated foot operations, has moved beyond practicing with coaches, according to Vaughn. Currently, Warren is competing against other players, however the schedule is uncertain.
“There have been no setbacks, so T.J. has been putting in solid work,” Vaughn said.